Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hardy's Chardonnay 3 Liter Box

Have you tried this wine? If so, please add your own comment.

Hardy's 2007 Chardonnay
Hardy's Stamp of Australia
South Eastern Australia
3 liter box, 2007
Alcohol 13.5%
About $19

From the box:
A fresh, lively wine featuring ripe peach and tropical fruit flavors with integrated oak.

Reviews in the News:

Dan Berger San Francisco Chronicle May 15, 2003. Tasted assortment.
Of the four I sampled, the best was the 2002 Hardy's Stamp Chardonnay. The wine is fresh and lively, with floral and citrusy aromas and flavors, dry but not austere, and with a bit less oak than I expected. It's an altogether pleasing if easy-drinking wine that would match well with seafood in light cream sauces.

Inside the box / Premium wine is no longer strictly a bottled affair

Wines & Vines, August 1, 2003
Boxed wine sure has changed since the days of crappy blush wines in a milk-crate-sized container. We just sampled the Hardys Stamp Australian Chardonnay at the Wine Brats' latest "Chefs Without Hats" event, and it not only looks respectable in its tidy box, it actually tastes good. When compared side-by-side with the company's bottled Chardonnay (Hardys sells it in 750ml bottles and in 3L casks), both wines showed crisp green apple flavors, nice balance and a refreshing lack of oakiness.
Hardys Stamp Australian Chardonnay

Laurie Daniel, August 6, 2003, the Mercury News
The best of the Hardy's Stamp wines is the 2001 shiraz ... The 2002 chardonnay is also reasonably well balanced. These are undemanding, easy-to-drink wines.

Welcome to the Mercury News on

Kirby Pringle, News-Gazette, Champaigne IL, December 5, 2003
The Hardys Chardonnay had more tropical fruit flavors and a light oak toastiness. The Shiraz tasted of dark plum and cherry, with a cinnamon finish. Both rate good to very good. Food

Bill Daley, October 13, 2004, Chicago Tribune
2004 Hardy's Stamp of Australia Chardonnay Smells peachy, but this Aussie white needed more oomph. "Some spiciness and fruit, but not much character," one panelist said. Another noted the wine's acidity but thought it was still a bit sappy. Serve with onion dip and chips, grilled chicken kabobs with pineapple, burgers. (1 corkscrew)
Wine in a box gaining some respect

Carol Emert, January 6, 2005, San Francisco Chronicle
The 2004 Hardys Stamp of Australia South Eastern Chardonnay ($16) is marked by sweet, honey-poached pear flavors and a hint of honeysuckle. It's unusually sweet for a table wine -- it contains 4 percent residual sugar, compared to about 1 percent normally -- but is nonetheless pleasant and well- made.

A bevy of boxes have room inside for value, flavor

Colorado Springs Gazette, April 27, 2005, (third choice of five)
Hardy's Stamp of Australia Chardonnay ($14.99) -- light yellow color with a floral nose and tart, ripe apple flavor.

Judges: Boxed wines nothing to sniff at Gazette, The (Colorado Springs) - Find Articles

Frank Sutherland and Kate Sutherland, October 13, 2005, The Tennessean
2004 Hardys Stamp Chardonnay from Australia at $17.99. This wine had a green/gold color and offered aromas of apples, limes and flowers. In the mouth we found refreshing apples with just enough acidity to give the wine a mouthwatering juiciness. This wine finished as a close second in our tasting.

Boxed wines have stepped things up a notch or two

Jessie Price, 2006, Eating Well
Hardy’s, Chardonnay (Australia) 2005 $18 Straw-colored with a heady aroma of gardenia, melon and fig, this full-bodied and syrupy wine bursts from its box to fill the glass with heavy tropical fruit flavors of pineapple and mango. A rather hot finish.

Thinking Inside the Box - Eating Well

Holly Howell, May 22, 2007, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Hardy's Chardonnay 2006. I have yet to see Australia do something horribly wrong. This white wine is wrapped in tetra-pak inside a yellow box, but it is also wrapped inside a lovely cloak of oak, with a beautiful tropical fruit palate and the perfect acidity to balance. This wine beat out four other box Chardonnays that were blind tasted to dozens of folks. Grab a 3-liter box (equivalent of 4 bottles) for only $16.

Democrat & Chronicle: Holly Howell

News-Leader of Springfield, MO, August 26, 2007
Hardys 2006 South Eastern Australia Chardonnay (three-liter box/$18.99). Here is a perfect example of a modern Australian chardonnay, and an example of what can be accomplished with grapes from a fine growing area. The aroma stresses green apples, pears, melons and spice, with oak and vanilla in the background. The green apple and the melon are the most prominent flavors, with an entire collection of tropical fruits lying just offshore. This chardonnay deserves your attention, especially at the price. | Homes

Kathleen Purvis, Charlotte Observer, July 23, 2008 (judged middle of a group)
Hardy's Chardonnay, $17.99 for 3 liters: This was one of the few that had a hint of color - the rest were almost clear. The aroma had some fruitiness and a little toasted oak, while the taste had notes of lemon and green apple. the box wine industry is aging well

Van Miller, Charlotte Magazine, October 1, 2008
2006 Hardy's Chardonnay, Southeast Australia. Big, luscious, fruity, mouthful, light vanilla, refreshing, easy-drinking party wine. Best of all whites.
Charlotte Magazine - - Drinking Outside the Box

Reviews in Blogs:

Jerry Hall, September 7, 2006, Winewaves blog
Hardy's Stamp Australia 2005 - Tasting Notes: Color: Light straw. Peach, vanilla and whiffs of smoke introduce this light, slightly sweet, fruity and tart Chardonnay. Alcohol content: 13.0%. Excellent value ($14/3.0 Liter = $3.50/750ml equivalent).

winewaves: Premium 3 Liter Bag-in-Box Chardonnay - Hardy's Stamp Australia 2005 & Black Box Monterey 2005

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Turning Leaf Pinot Grigio 3 Liter Box

This just appeared on the local grocery store shelf several months ago, and we've enjoyed it enough to buy again and serve at casual gatherings. Have you tried this wine? If so, please add your own comment.

Turning Leaf 2007 Reserve Pinot Grigio
Turning Leaf Vineyards
Modesto, California
3 liter box, 2007
About $19 - $20

From the box:
Ripe red apple flavors, highlighted by delicious hints of citrus blossom. It's a wine that's easy to appreciate by itself, for its quality, and easy to pair with good foods such as grilled teriyaki chicken spiced with ginger, or creamy seafood risottos.
. . .
Flavors of
Red Apple
Fresh Pineapple
Lemon Citrus

Which is greener?

From the New York Times:

Glass Is Greener

To the Editor:

Re “Drink Outside the Box,” by Tyler Colman (Op-Ed, Aug. 18):

Without a doubt, glass bottles are greener than wine boxes.

Calculating a carbon footprint based solely on trucking capacity is myopic and fails to consider the carbon costs for extraction and manufacturing.

Just envision the various elements that have to go into creating a wine box. It involves many more steps, materials and energy inputs than are required for making a glass bottle.

As for recycling, most communities can handle glass, which is 100 percent recyclable. Good luck finding programs that handle wine boxes.

The choice is clear: glass is greener.

Joseph J. Cattaneo


Glass Packaging Institute

Alexandria, Va., Aug. 19, 2008

Letter - Glass Is Greener - Letter -

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Italy is drinking outside the box

From the New York Times:

Drink Outside the Box

August 18, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor

ITALY’S Agriculture Ministry announced this month that some wines that receive the government’s quality assurance label may now be sold in boxes. That’s right, Italian wine is going green, and for some connoisseurs, the sky might as well be falling.

But the sky isn’t falling. Wine in a box makes sense environmentally and economically. Indeed, vintners in the United States would be wise to embrace the trend that is slowly gaining acceptance worldwide.

Wine in a box has been around for more than 30 years — though with varying quality. The Australians were among the first to popularize it. And hardly a fridge in the south of France, especially this time of year, is complete without a box of rosé. Here in America, by contrast, boxed wine has had trouble escaping a down-market image. But now that wine producers are talking about reducing their carbon footprint — that is, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted in the transportation of wine — selling the beverage in alternative, lighter packaging instead of heavier glass seems like the right thing to do.

More than 90 percent of American wine production occurs on the West Coast, but because the majority of consumers live east of the Mississippi, a large part of carbon-dioxide emissions associated with wine comes from simply trucking it from the vineyard to tables on the East Coast. A standard wine bottle holds 750 milliliters of wine and generates about 5.2 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions when it travels from a vineyard in California to a store in New York. A 3-liter box generates about half the emissions per 750 milliliters. Switching to wine in a box for the 97 percent of wines that are made to be consumed within a year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons, or the equivalent of retiring 400,000 cars.

But here’s another reason to sell wine in a box. America will soon become the largest wine market in the world. In recent years, we overtook Italy, and France is now in our sights. (This is total consumption, not per person; we are still well behind by the latter measure.) As Americans drink more wine, we will be drinking it not only on special occasions like dates and weddings, but also on Monday nights with pizza. That’s a lot of wine — and potentially a big carbon footprint.

Although some sommeliers may scoff at wine from a plastic spigot, boxes are perfect for table wines that don’t need to age, which is to say, all but a relative handful of the top wines from around the world. What’s more, boxed wine is superior to glass bottle storage in resolving that age-old problem of not being able to finish a bottle in one sitting. Once open, a box preserves wine for about four weeks compared with only a day or two for a bottle. Boxed wine may be short on charm, but it is long on practicality.

Which leads to a final reason for boxed wine: it’s so much more economical. Having an affordable glass of wine may be the best way to keep our 15-year bull market for wine consumption running. It also would help keep per-glass prices of wine from rising as the dollar falls.

The main obstacle to a smaller carbon footprint for wine is the frequently abysmal quality of wine put in boxes. But that’s an easy fix: raise the quality.

In the past few years, the boxed wine sold in America has shown some signs of improvement. There’s been wine in a stylish cardboard tube made by a top winemaker in Burgundy. There’s a good, old-vine grenache from the Pyrenees sold in a box. A succulent unoaked malbec from organically grown grapes in Argentina is now available in the United States thanks to the 1-liter TetraPak, which is also being used by three renegade Californians who have a line of wines that are sold in 250-milliliter packages — about the size of juice boxes, but without straws. And then, of course, there’s the news from Italy.

Producers everywhere need to deliver better wine in a box — and make it snappy. Perhaps they will if consumers start to demand that everyday wines that don’t need to age in a bottle be sold in a box. If you’re sorry about the change, squeeze off another well-preserved, affordable, low-carbon serving of boxed wine and mull it over.
Op-Ed Contributor - Wine in a Box Protects the Environment and Saves You Money - Op-Ed -

Monday, April 14, 2008

Global shortage of bottles

Overproduction, market saturation, factory closures, and now ... a shortage of sand in France??? From The Scotsman, Edinburgh:

Wine-lovers lose their bottle
By Lindsay McIntosh and Max Orbach
April 12, 2008

THEY are the final resort of partygoers who should have left the barbecue some hours before – the cheap boxes of wine with their last dregs of plonk.
But these boxes with their limp bags of booze could soon be the centrepiece of the most affluent tables as the wine in-dustry struggles to cope with a global shortage of bottles.

An over-production in Europe in recent years brought the market to saturation, forcing the closure of factories, and now, though there is a shortage, they have not reopened.

At the same time, there has been a massive increase in wine production and consumption – meaning manufacturers are struggling to find receptacles for their products.

Jean-Michel Gauffre, the owner of La Garrigue restaurant in Edinburgh's Jeffrey Street, said there was "a severe shortage of bottles".

He said: "In the last couple of years, there's been a shortage of sand in France for bottles and apparently they have to import a huge amount of glass.

"Even though they can't get the glass, all the factories which closed down didn't reopen so there's a shortage of bottles. The production is too slow and can't keep up with the demand due to the rapid globalisation of wine- making."

Alex Hunt, a London-based wine importer who deals with Scottish firms, said the factory closures had stiffened the price of wine, which had gone up by 10 per cent across Europe in the last year.

He said: "Even if bottles are more expensive, this is only one part of the cost, but it has meant that every supplier in Europe is now under significantly more pressure."

Mr Gauffre said the "big new thing" was "the bag in a box with the tap". It was going to be the "short-term solution – and maybe the future – for the vast majority of people".

He said most Europeans were now buying wine from the supermarket rather than manufacturers – even in France – and buying in bigger quantities because it is cheaper by the box. In the US, litre juice cartons are also being used by vintners, a concept likely to be exported to the UK soon.

Philippe Larue, the managing director of Edinburgh wine merchants l'Art du Vin, revealed that a popular wine called Yellow Jersey was being marketed in Canada in plastic bottles, with great success.

He added: "In France, bag-in-a-box wine packaging is very popular. People will go out to a small vineyard and buy anything up to five litres of wine.

"It's very good if you plan to drink the wine in the next few days, although obviously it will not keep very well because too much air gets into it. By the end of the week, you will pretty much be left with vinegar."

Mr Gauffre said: "The important thing for the wine-makers is simply to sell the wine. So if at the end of the day the customer is happy to buy the wine in a bag-in-a-box or a juice carton, then so be it.

"The most important thing is to sell the product. I think for a person who drinks wine every day – which I hope everyone does – the boxes are best."

It's an open secret – glass has more class

DRINKING wine that comes from a bottle is important because of the sheer sense of anticipation that goes with opening it.

The ceremony of uncorking, or even unscrewing, a bottle should be savoured; it's like the difference between going to a restaurant and eating food out of a can.

There is a lot to be said for taking life more ponderously, as they do in France and Italy, and I think slowly savouring a bottle of wine is part of a more enjoyable lifestyle.

Of course, anyone fortunate enough to have a wine cellar will realise that you certainly can't keep a box down there for very long.

The best wines need to be kept in a bottle because they need time to breathe.

Although a lot of wines are now produced to be quaffed in the first couple of years, even Australian wines really benefit from being stored in a cool place for a while.

And, of course, there is nothing quite so good as that moment when you find a bottle of wine which you have been storing in a cold, dark corner for a few years.

Wine bottles, like so many good things, were developed by the Romans. Before that, wine was carted around in clay amphorae, which – though sturdy – were exceedingly heavy.

Bottles were, of course, much more convenient and
have remained the container of choice right up to the present day.

Another wonderful aspect of the wine bottle is that it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Italian wine producers are particularly good at designing them and shape is very important when your wine is struggling for position on the shelf.

Recently, a lot of wine bottles have got much taller because – as well as looking very fine and slim – this also gives the psychological appearance of the bottle containing more wine.

Another art that would be lost with the death of the wine bottle is label design.

Whereas traditionally the Europeans tended to produce rather dull, white labels, the New World producers ratcheted up the competition by creating vividly coloured labels which really leapt out from the shelf.

• Michael Romer is a partner in Edinburgh independent wine seller Peter Green & Company

Wine-lovers lose their bottle - News

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cheaper by the box

From the El Paso Times:

Quality wine is cheaper by the box

El Paso Times Staff
February 12, 2008

Regretfully, since neither our laws nor our customs support the concept of driving up to the pump to fill up our demijohns with wine as they do in Europe, the Wine in a Box concept is a good alternative to having wine available as an everyday staple at your table. Wine is slowly but surely becoming part of American life, and the need to have more accessible and affordable everyday wine is driving the need for alternative packaging.

After seeing select wine in a box available at arguably well respected establishments such as the Greenery Market in El Paso and Spiagga in Chicago, I thought it was time to explore the subject.

The bag in box system was created by the Scholle Corp. of Northlake, Ill., for sulfuric acid battery disposal. In Australia, this concept was converted to wine packaging about 30 years ago, and now 50 percent of all wine consumption is from wine in a box. Sweden's consumption of box wine exceeds 60 percent, and other European nations and Canada are catching up quickly. In all of my travels, in the U.S. and Mexico, I have seen a much lower demand for wine in a box, though industry statistics show rapid growth in this area.

There are several reasons why wine in a box is a good option for an everyday house wine. Packaging costs are reduced up to 80 percent, which makes the eventual cost of wine in a box much more affordable. The inner bag (inside the box) collapses as it empties, so with proper storage that wine can last up to a month after opening.

Still, there is still a stigma that wine in a box is of lesser quality. To some extent, this remains true, although more and more wine producers are willing to place good-quality wine in a box. This is all contingent on the American consumer's willingness to increase consumption of wine placed in a box.

I am still very cautious when I approach wines in a box, although I am more daring if the wine in a box is at a fine wine shop or on the wine list of a first-class restaurant such as Spiagga's in Chicago. I certainly do not propose the wholesale consumption of wine in a box for everyday use unless the wine in the box is of good quality.

As a wine importer, I am fortunate to be able to affect the quality of wine in a box that comes to the El Paso market. Last year, I was at a wine-in-a-box tasting of wines from all over Italy. I found about 75 percent of them of very good quality. Plans are in the works to introduce the varietals of Sangiovese, Nero d'Avola and Primitivo in a box to El Paso.

I have informed all of my suppliers and all of my sources of wines that I am interested in engaging in relationships with wineries that have good-quality wine in a standard bottle but who can also bottle that same wine in a box. This allows me to select quality wines that are normally sold in a standard bottle and simply alter the packaging, keeping the same quality in a more consumer-friendly, less-expensive alternative packaging.

Don't be surprised if a 2008 year-end wine dinner from Italian Imports features only wines in a box.

Italian Imports owner Riccardo Barraza writes a regular wine column for the El Paso Times.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blue Nun and the medial orbitofrontal cortex

From the New York Times, an anti-economy bias is confronted with an old classic in a new economical package:
Basic Instincts
My Cortex Made Me Buy It
Published: February 9, 2008

WHEN I invited a friend to dinner one day last summer, she mentioned that she would bring some Blue Nun white wine, in a box.

If you’re not accustomed to hearing the words “box” and “wine” in the same sentence, the idea might sound unappealing. Perhaps even déclassé. Not that I wanted to admit these thoughts to my friend, but my exclamation — “Blue Nun? In a box?” — did make my skepticism rather clear.

Fortunately she just laughed at my snobbery, and said that boxed wine today was far from the old Chablis with a spigot, which some of us may recall from college bars and family picnics. She even used the word “tasty” — which although not top of the oenophile vocabulary, sounded promising.

And she was right. Blue Nun in a box was surprisingly tasty, all things considered, and the embarrassing experience of having my cheap wine prejudice exposed has forced me to examine how far this financial bias goes.

I feared that the wine incident was evidence that somehow I actually believed that paying more for things means they’re better, even though I know it isn’t true. There is research suggesting that the bias toward higher-priced goods may have something to do with the way the brain links price with pleasure — and thus leads people to make assumptions about quality.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month, researchers from the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University asked 20 volunteers to taste and evaluate five wine samples, which were labeled according to price: $5, $10, $35, $45 and $90 a bottle. All of the volunteers identified themselves as moderate wine drinkers and not experts.

They said they liked the more expensive wines best. And brain scans taken as the volunteers sipped and rated the wines showed that the higher-priced wines generated more activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area of the brain that responds to certain pleasurable experiences.

But there was a catch: although subjects were told that they were tasting five different wines, in fact they sampled only three. The $90 wine was presented twice, once at its real price and once as a $10 wine; the $5 wine was also presented as a $45 wine. When the wines were offered at the higher price, participants preferred them — and their brains registered greater pleasure.

When they sampled the wines with lower prices, however, the subjects not only liked them less, their brains registered less pleasure from the experience. It seems that what these subjects really liked was the price tag, not the product.

APPARENTLY my brain had a similar reaction at the thought of drinking Blue Nun from a box, which costs about $20 for a container that packs the equivalent of four 750-milliliter bottles of wine. But why? Does the brain fire up at the sight of a higher price tag in any context?

The study’s authors examined responses only to different wines, not to cars or clothes, said Antonio Rangel, associate professor of economics at Caltech and one of the authors of the paper. He hesitated to extrapolate too much, but he said that there were reasons to suspect that the price tag bias occurs in many contexts.

Given the human love affair with high-priced luxury goods, and their association with status and power, it’s possible that we’ve come to experience a cerebral shiver of delight in response to things that promise that cachet. It is as if consuming high-end goods might lead to a personal transformation that bargain-hunting can’t buy.

Professor Rangel said that the pleasure we take from something “seems to depend on our beliefs about our experience of that thing.” It’s interesting that the study also suggests we aren’t always aware of these beliefs — even though we end up paying for them.

As a result of my adventures in boxed wine, my husband and I have had some success exploring the realm of drinkable plonk. I think my medial orbitofrontal cortex is struggling with this new development, but it is balanced by the financial lobe’s pleasure in saving money.

My Cortex Made Me Buy It - New York Times

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