Saturday, January 27, 2007

American Wines with a Foreign Accent?

Bulgaria? Macedonia???? "American" wine can contain up to 25 percent foreign wine blended in. I knew that Australia was a big source for the bulk wines used in this blending, but I had no idea that Bulgaria and Macedonia were big bulk wine producers. In an article in today's Sacramento Bee, Michael Doyle writes that the California Association of Winegrape Growers wants to know just how non-American so-called "American" wines are. The group is pushing for a rule for all-American grapes.

In a new campaign, growers are starting to probe how often foreign grapes are folded into wines labeled as American. Currently, federal law permits foreign blends to account for up to 25 percent of an American- labeled wine.

Business - Wine group wants rule for all-American grapes -

This is a different kind of appellation trail.

An appellation defines where a wine comes from. It can be famous, like the Napa Valley. It can be obscure, like the Tracy Hills. It can be all-encompassing, like California.

It can also incite protracted conflict, as grape growers and winemakers alike maneuver for marketing advantage and commercial opportunity. Several years ago, for instance, California's wineries split over an ultimately unsuccessful proposal to create a 22,000-square-mile "California Coast" viticultural area.

Since 1942, state law has mandated that only wine made completely from California grapes can be labeled with a California appellation. Federal rules differ, permitting the blending from foreign sources even on wines called American.

The blending occurs most frequently on inexpensive box wines, where the American designation may be easily overlooked. The foreign blending wines themselves may come from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Australia -- anywhere the winemaking costs are lower than in the United States.

Business - Wine group wants rule for all-American grapes -

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Boxed Wine $1 Off in Schenectady

Any readers in Schenectady, NY, here's a link to a coupon for $1.00 off boxed wine at Guidarelli's Discount Wines & Liquors. It's for 3, 4, or 5 liter box, limit of 3, good through end of January. DON'T try to print this image, it's not the valid coupon. Click on the image below to go to the site, and click on the print button there.

Guidarelli's Discount Wines & Liquors coupon, 1437 Broadway, Schenectady, NY 12306, Wine & Liquor, $1 OFF Box Wine,

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Bag inside the Box Is Improving

Bag-in-box packaging has long been recognized to have limitations in the oxygen-barrier department. Oxygen is wine's enemy, and the imperfect oxygen barrier offered by the BiB package places serious limitations on the shelf life of a box of wine. I have seen estimates of 12 to 18 months, and I've heard that boxed wine should probably be consumed within 6 months of purchase.

Wine consumers, and the wine industry have been looking forward to promised improvements in the technology. Perhaps now some improvement is on the horizon. This press release from Rapak promises better oxygen barriers in bags and taps, and an innovative fill head which minimizes oxygenation on filling.

Another interesting point in this press release: boxed wine sales in France increased fivefold (by volume) in five years, reaching 854,000 hl by 2004.

January 23, 2007 01:00 PM Eastern Time
Thanks to Rapak – Fine Wines From France Are in the Bag
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium 2007

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bag-in-box packaging has come a long way since it first emerged as a “party pack.” Now connoisseurs can enjoy high quality French and Californian bag-in-box wines by the glass at home, thanks to companies like Rapak, one of the world’s leading suppliers of complete bag-in-box systems.

Rapak has won over leading producers in Europe such as Prodis (Carrefour Group), Chais Beaucairois (Marie-Brizard Group) and Vignerons Ardechois. These makers of fine wines are now turning to the bag-in-box format to drive market share, overcoming a traditional market reluctance to use this type of packaging. The strategy has been successful with sales of bag-in-box wines in France increasing fivefold over a five year period (from 170,000 hl in 98/99 to 854,000 hl in 03/04).

The switch of quality wines from bottle to bags in Europe comes as the result of major advances in filling and packaging technology with Rapak leading the research-based advances. Rapak is now offering this proven technology for packing quality wines in Bag in Box in the USA.

The key factor is the ability to reduce the amount of oxygen in the finished pack to minimal levels. Traditionally it has been necessary to add sulphur dioxide to ‘soak up’ oxygen, and since this can adversely affect the flavour of more sensitive quality wines it limits the range of wines able to be packed into bags. Now Rapak has introduced new technologies including:

* Enhanced oxygen barriers on the films which line the bags
* A high oxygen barrier dispense tap with simple button operation and a lift and peel security seal
* A patented Nitrogen shrouded fill head which minimizes Dissolved oxygen pickup during the filling process

The combination of these technological developments is shelf-life extension. Oxygen ingress is the major factor dictating the long-term quality of the wine, therefore reduced oxygen during filling and storage can significantly extend shelf life.

The combination of the technological advances in packaging and filling and the ready acceptance by consumers and retailers of this packaging format means bag-in-box wine is set to become an even more familiar sight on the supermarket shelf.

Thanks to Rapak -- Fine Wines From France Are in the Bag

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Monday, January 22, 2007

99-cent Box Wine Sucks

Well, whad'ya expect for 99 cents. Yes, that's 99 cents for THREE LITERS. We're not even talking Two Buck Chuck here. And what's more, it's imported (yes, part of that 99 cents is the price someone paid to ship this from Italy).

The wine was Terra Cotta 2001 Merlot, product of Italy.

So now I know where merlot-gone-really-bad ends it's life: at the DOLLAR STORE. I haven't been able to find this item mentioned anywhere else on the web, but Grapedonk at the WineAss vlog actually tasted it. You can skip actually watching the video, and just know that Grapedonk's verdict was:

“Rotten mineral-spirits paint-brush-smelling prune juice thing—if you see this, run!”

Wineass - Wine Reviews, Without the Bull » Episode 78: ‘01 Terra Cotta Merlot

Anyone sensitive about off-color language and metaphor is advised to skip the vid, but if you want to really experience Grapedonk's suffering go ahead and watch.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Celebrities Treated to Boxed Wines at Golden Globes

This year's Golden Globe grab bag of gifts included boxed wine. Celebrities visiting the Golden Globe Gift Suite were treated to Black Box Wines in the Gift Bag Suite.

As the average Celebrity spends two hours in GBK's suite they might get hungry so Vidalia Grills will be serving up lunch on their Amazing grills which celebrities will than have the opportunity to use in their own homes. VIP Bartenders will be pouring Black Box Wines, Peet's Coffee, Pinky Vodka, and of course a majority of them will just be drinking Contrex Natural Mineral Water, a Perrier or Who's Your Daddy Energy Drink. O'Coco's Organic Chocolate Crisps & Bodega Chocolate will be serving up a few things to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Celebrities & Non Profits Will be Receiving their Christmas Gifts a Couple Weeks Late This Holiday Season

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

BiB Wine in Tarbes, France

What a great blog post on Eat about boxed wine! It's always refreshing to hear about the REAL Continental attitude toward the box. I'm so weary of the fallacious assumption on the part of the American press that wine in boxes is considered heresey by the French. The blogs of travellers and ex-pats give a view much more grounded in the realities of continental life.

This was posted yesterday on the Eat blog. This is a portion of the post. Be sure to go there to read the rest of Leland's post.

Boxed wine is good for you
Posted by Leland one day ago

As Black Box Wines states on their website, “The true wine enthusiast is only concerned with one thing…the quality of the wine.” That sounds extremely cheesy, but I have to agree with it. The purpose of this post is to tell anyone who is not sure if it’s okay to drink and serve boxed wine, and I believe this group to be in the majority, that it’s not only okay, but it’s smart, modern, and in the spirit of true wine drinking.

Nathan and I went through at least one ten-liter box of wine in Tarbes, which we bought from a store in a weird part of town that sold wine in huge boxes that were filled from barrels. The proprietor was a connoisseur, but not in a glass-swirling way. She was red-faced and enthusiastic, and she didn’t blink at our accents or our ignorance. We wanted good wine for daily drinking, she could see, putting us in the same category with her regular customers. She sold us something good from the region, which many of our friends rejected at subsequent social gatherings in favor of whatever was being poured from the bottle. If only they knew that we kept crap in bottles, and that what was in the box was better and more expensive.

Boxed wine is good for you

As I said, be sure to follow the link to read the rest. BTW, Leland, those blistered potatoes look to-die-for. I've got to try that.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Boxed Wine Around the Globe -- India

Boxed wine is coming to India. This from Monday's edition of the Hindustan Times:

Bag-in-box wines to make an entry into the Indian market
Zeeshan Shaikh
Nasik, January 15, 2007

With the Maharashtra Government giving a go-ahead for supermarkets to sell bottles of wine, wineries in the state in order to facilitate customer convenience are now planning to sell wine in boxes.

Two of the states leading wineries Sula and Vinsura Vineyards are soon planning to launch Bag-in-box wines also known as "box wines". These are wines packaged in a bag usually made of aluminised PET film and protected by a box, usually made of standard corrugated cardboard. The bag is sealed by a simple plastic tap, which is used to dispense the wine.

The most common sizes are 1.5, 3, 4 and 5 litre. "We have installed the machinery to pack wines in boxes. Box wines save 20-25 per cent of our packaging cost and are also easy to handle. We hope to sell these products in the market in the next couple of months," Vinsura Vineyards chairman Pralhad Khadangale told Hindustan Times.

Conventional wine bottles cost around Rs 30 while wineries would be procurring these bag-in-boxes for around Rs 20. Khadangale said that the box wine would basically targeted at restaurants which sell wine by glasses and individuals who do not plan to drink a bottle in one go. Conventionally bottled wines have an extremely low shelf life after they are opened and exposed to air which leads to oxidation.

"The chief advantage to box wine is that it prevents oxidation of the wine as it is dispensed. Whereas wine in a bottle is oxidised by the volume of air in the bottle which has displaced the wine already poured, wine in a bag is never touched by air and thus never subject to oxidation until it is put in a glass," Vitop's representative Patrick Shea said. Italy based Vitop would supply the bag-in-box machinery to both the wineries.

"It is a great solution for packaging less expensive wines. This packaging allows the customer to keep a wine for a longer time even after the pack has been opened. These are some of the initiatives which will help in increasing wine penetration in the country," Sula Vineyards CEO Rajeev Samant said.

Industry watchers say that even though these boxes may not have the classy look of conventional wine bottles, this concept would help in increasing wine penetration. Indian market for wine is presently pegged at nine million litres and is growing at a rate of 35 per cent.

Bag-in-box wines to enter the Indian market :

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Boxed Wine Dispenser - An Elegant Solution

Here's another simple, elegant, and functional solution to the cardboard problem. The Tapsack is a beverage tote bag which allows discarding of the cardboard box. This was originally available in a 5-liter rugged version made for boating, camping and other outdoor recreation. Now Fairtradewind is introducing a fancy 3-liter version that is very classy.

The situation: The wedding was beautiful; the party was incredible; the Delicato wines were delicious. Now it's the morning after. And what have we got?

The Delicato Chardonnay spent the night on ice in the cooler, and this does NOT look good.

The cardboard boxes are A SOGGY MESS!

The boxes have completely disintegrated!

Now what will we do with a floppy bag of perfectly good chard?

The Tapsack Elegant is a very elegant solution!

Open up the bag edges.

Slide in the bag-o-wine.

Position the valve through the hole.

Close the hook & loop edges.

Now we need a label.

Don't want to forget what variety of tasty juice is inside.

Position the label in the window pocket.

Now we're ready to pour!

Or to travel on to the next party!

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

NYT Discovers the Boxed Wine Dispenser

A while back I posted about the bag-in-box wine dispenser from the Swedish designer, Patrik Svanberg. I still find the appearance of this dispenser a little stark, and there is no way to identify the contents. The New York Times has picked up on this item, and today's business section features this article.

Thinking Outside the Cardboard

January 14, 2007

WINEMAKERS say that today’s boxed wines are markedly better than the thin, acidic plonk of yore. And American consumers seem to agree, judging by their growing thirst for merlots and chardonnays encased in cardboard. According to Information Resources, a retail data firm, dollar sales of wine in three-liter boxes tripled from 2004 to 2006.

Yet many drinkers still won’t deign to sip wine from a spigot, no matter how many times they’re told that the quality has improved. It’s the packaging that turns them off, they say. For some, the boxes are hopelessly tacky — fit more for sorority parties than sophisticated get-togethers. For others, the boxes are too reminiscent of youthful misadventures: legion are the tales of epic hangovers caused by imbibing too much boxed swill.

Patrik Svanberg, a product designer in Stockholm, is among those who previously equated boxed wine with cheap, regrettable excesses; he recalls getting drunk on the stuff during a high-school trip to France. “But then maybe five years ago, boxed wine started to become really popular in Sweden,” Mr. Svanberg said.

Indeed, according to the market research company ACNielsen, 65 percent of the wine consumed in Sweden now comes in boxes. (The figure for the United States is around 20 percent.)

Though relatively impressed with the taste of these wines, Mr. Svanberg couldn’t quite overcome his aversion to the boxes themselves. “We went to lots of dinner parties, and there would be this ugly thing, this box of wine,” he said. “That made me think about making something beautiful to put on the table.”

In early 2003, Mr. Svanberg began developing his Bag-in-Box Wine Dispenser, a metal contraption that resembles a cross between an Italian coffeemaker and a “Star Wars” droid. To use it, a drinker must first open the boxed wine’s carton and remove the three-liter plastic pouch inside. The pouch is then placed inside the dispenser and attached to a simple push-button tap.

At first, Mr. Svanberg thought of giving the dispenser a more spartan look — essentially that of an aluminum box. But he was disappointed in his first prototype, which he found to be boring, not sleek. “It looked better in my mind than it did in reality,” he said.

But as he brooded over his failure over breakfast one morning, he found inspiration on his kitchen counter. “I actually had an orange-juice press in my kitchen,” he said, “and I saw that it had very nice curves in the legs.”

After adding similar legs to his dispenser, Mr. Svanberg entered the testing phase, which required buying dozens of boxes of wine. He discovered that while the interior bags were more or less of uniform size, winemakers used about 10 different types of outflow holes. Months of tweaking were required to ensure that the dispenser’s tap could accommodate every version.

A longtime client of Mr. Svanberg’s, the P.O.M. housewares company of Stockholm, started manufacturing the dispenser in late 2003. It is now available from the online Dutch design shop, and is priced at 39 euros, or about $50.

Mr. Svanberg says a few customers have complained about the length of the dispenser’s legs, contending that they’re not high enough to allow for a fully upright glass to be placed underneath. He counters that longer legs would make the dispenser look ungainly, and that a drinker can compensate by tilting the glass while pressing the tap.

Drinkers who want to recreate the low-brow boxed-wine experiences of their youth, however, can still go for the method preferred by soused tailgaters: bring the dispenser to the edge of a table, and place one’s mouth directly under the spout.

Not classy by any means, but certainly effective.

Thinking Outside the Cardboard - New York Times

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Boxed Wine Is the Party Solution

CityPaper (Wichita, KS) published this excellent boxed wine article for the holiday party season.

I can't bring myself to refer to glorified juice boxes as "cask wines." And there was a missed opportunity to debunk the "hint of plastic in the aftertaste" myth. But, all in all, a great article. The writer's favorite bag-in-box wines brands are Banrock Station, Delicato, Hardy's, and Black Box.

Box wine to the rescue

By Elizabeth Stevenson

Dec 14, 2006

As we would all probably agree, an important component of the holiday season is The Party; some of which you are invited to, and some of which you host yourself. And, as we also might agree, the key to hosting a successful party is to ensure that no one is without a drink for more than 30 seconds. If your guest list reads like a county census, however, the two conditions may start to appear mutually exclusive.

So, how does one keep a houseful of guests pleasantly buzzed for three hours without taking out a mortgage on said house? The only answer is to buy one’s wine in bulk, better known as “box” wine, or “cask” wine to the people who don’t want to admit that they’re drinking box wine.

Let me begin by stating that there is nothing wrong with box wine — price or label notwithstanding — if you’ve found something that you genuinely enjoy.

Many a fine Hearty Burgundy has enlivened an otherwise deadly office Christmas party, and a 3L carton of Sunset Blush is unblushingly dispensed at most summer barbecues held on this continent. Some box wines — such as Banrock Station, Black Box, Delicato and Hardy’s — are clandestinely poured into crystal decanters and presented with much √©lan; completely deceiving even the most sophisticated palates.

Box wine is an infinitely useful invention and can claim devotees from all walks of life; from charity-event-trophy-wives to one-glass-with-dinner singletons. It stays fresh for weeks, can be easily stored, and is crafted to be inoffensive to the average taste bud.

If, however, the word “Franzia” usually stops you in your tracks and causes you to slowly put down your plastic cup, there is still hope, should you have invited half the population of Wichita to your holiday party this weekend.

There are many worthy cask options these days, some of which are even drinkable.

For example, last year I discovered Tavernello, made by Caviro, an Italian producer. It comes in 1L Tetra Pak boxes and retails for about $10, but I’ve seen it on sale recently for a couple dollars less. (Tetra Pak boxes are those collapsible plastic-and-aluminum-lined paper boxes that you’ve seen holding fruit juices in children’s lunch boxes for years.) Both the Grigio/Bianco blend and the Sangiovese are extremely good value for money, and would be a welcome change from the traditional festive domestic or Australian adorable animal-themed brands. The only disadvantage is that the containers aren’t terribly elegant, so you might want to present them in a nice glass carafe.

For a box that you can actually set on the table, check out French Rabbit. They’re vintage-dated, appellation-specific wines from Southern France, and come in unique 1L octagonal Tetra Pak boxes, accented by snazzy (albeit adorable animal-themed) graphics. Plus, the wine is exceptional, even by wine-snob standards, and quite affordable. Unfortunately, it isn’t available in Kansas yet, but if the majority of your Christmas parties will be thrown out-of-state/country this year, I would suggest a few boxes of each varietal — this is a outstanding product across the board.

Regarding packaging, there are two different types of boxes: one, the above-mentioned Tetra Pak (also labeled as Prisma Pak or B-Pak as a Ford may be labeled as a Mustang or a Taurus), and two, the large box with plastic interior bladder.

Both are well suited to large gatherings and easy pouring, but the bag-in-a-box wine will last considerably longer. The bag deflates as the wine is dispensed, so air never touches the contents; reducing the potential for oxidation and therefore increasing its shelf-life to around a month or so.

My favorites of the plastic-bladder genre would be Banrock Station Shiraz and Chardonnay, Delicato Shiraz, and Chardonnay and Hardy’s Merlot (all around $16/3L), and Black Box Merlot and Chardonnay (around $25/3L). These are each accomplished, vintage-dated examples of their respective varieties, and a few of them are even excellent wines regardless of the rather tacky packaging. In fact, the house white at my favorite bar is a Delicato Chardonnay, and I have watched many times, without flinching, as it is poured out for me from a box. I would proudly serve the Black Box Merlot at almost any party, and am comfortable defending the honor of the Banrock Station South Eastern Australia Shiraz.

Some purists have stated that they can detect a hint of plastic in the aftertaste of their cask wines, but a palate that sensitive is rare and probably will not show up at your fraternity Christmas party, so don’t let that dissuade you from any future box wine acquisitions.

Appealing to the environmentally conscious consumer, box wine produces far less waste and is more energy efficient to transport and store. Tetra Paks reduce packaging waste by 90%, reduce fuel consumption and emissions at every stage of the manufacturing process and can be recycled just like glass bottles.

Added to the fact that buying in bulk translates into about $4 a bottle, box wine is a wise holiday investment for any budget. Spend a few dollars more at the DAV on interesting old glass carafes or bottles to put it in, and your guests will be so impressed that they’ll feel obliged to really splurge on your present this year.

The Wichita City Paper

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Delicato Shiraz 3 Liter Box

This is one of the most talked about premium domestic boxed wines, famous for it's Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator ratings, and California State Fair honors in three consecutive years. Lots of reviews and tasting notes, in part because it's also available and very popular in bottles.

Delicato Shiraz
Delicato Family Vineyards
California, Lodi
3 liter box, vintage dated (also available in bottle)
about $18.00

. . . complex aromas of spice, blackberry, and red cherry. On the palate, this wine has a soft, supple mouthfeel with flavors of blueberries, spice, and oak nuances that lead into a lingering finish.

Delicato Family Vineyards

Reviews in the press

Jerry Shriver, October 24, 2006, USA Today (2005 vintage, bottle)
The plain-Jane label couldn't be more boring, but then we don't choose our wines based on pretty graphics, do we? DO we? No, it's the juice that counts, and this is perfectly good juice, loaded with soft, sweet blueberry and plum flavors that end with a peppery bite. Whatever you pair it with should be spicy, so I'm thinking pepper steak, stir fry or perhaps a jazzed-up casserole. - Cheers: Archives

Tara Q Thomas, July 5, 2006, Denver Post (2005 vintage, box)
Wine of the Week
. . .
I laughed as I pulled out Delicato's Bota Box Shiraz, the jammy, refreshingly juicy red we were enjoying. - Wine of the week, 7/5

S.H., December 31, 2006, Wine Enthusiast Magazine (2005 vintage, bottle)
Rating 84. A Best Buy. Sure, it’s sharp and rustic, but it explodes in fresh cherry, blackberry jam and chocolate flavors, with a white pepper edge, and is smooth and mostly dry. At this price, let it wash down lasagna, cheeseburgers and gravy-smothered fried chicken.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

Frank Sutherland and Kate Sutherland, December 19, 2006, Gannett News Service (2004 vintage, bottle)
Wine of the week . . . Aroma: Scents of dried cherries, plums and raspberries mixed with notes of black tea, minerals and leather. Palate: A mouthful with a silky texture and a long finish. Verdict: Relatively complex wine that won first place in our tasting, the Delicato, at this price, is a great buy for a party. Delicato California shiraz

W. Blake Gray, December 8, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle (2004 vintage, box)
Another good bag-in-box value . . . a strong black pepper flavor in addition to blackberries and earth. There's even a hint in the aroma of hot dogs, that classic food of barbecues, ball games and formal dinner parties (at least the good ones).

Turn up the game, grab a burger and bust open Wines for Men

Darryl Beeson, May 2006, TravelLady Magazine (2004 vintage, bottle)
Rating 88 . . . Blackberry and charred oak are in the nose. The sip leads with blackberry, followed by toasted oak.

Syrah or Shiraz- Enjoy!

W.E, August 1, 2006, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2004 vintage, bottle)
Rating 84. A Best Buy. Like the Merlot, this is varietally correct, in this case balancing blackberry and white pepper flavors. Supple tannins make it go down smooth and easy, without a second thought.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

W.E., September 1, 2005, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2004 vintage, bottle)
Rating 85. A Best Buy. Soft and medium-bodied in the mouth, this Calfornia Shiraz has tarry, earthy notes on the nose that join plum fruit on the palate. A good, simple, easy drinker.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

S.H., March 1, 2005, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2003 vintage, box)
Rating 85. A Best Buy. What a great value this boxed wine is. It’s dry and balanced, with rich tannins and blackberry, cherry, cocoa and spice flavors. Perfect for a large occasion when you don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

Carol Emert, January 6, 2005, San Francisco Chronicle (2003 vintage, box)
. . . a pleasant, earthy wine that tastes of pomegranate and currant, with a good tannic structure and vanilla overtones. This wine has the complexity to be a good match with meat or mushrooms.

A bevy of boxes have room inside for value, flavor

Anne Schamberg, August 7, 2005, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (2003 vintage, box)
Just what you want from Shiraz - lots of intense flavor, but little rough tannin.

JS Online:

John W. Schultz, November 24. 2004, Wine Squire (2003 vintage, bottle)
Delicious, Spicy berry character with the much desired brambly character you might get from a tart wild blackberry add in some nice spicy leathery. The finish is lush with firm rustic tannins. This gets my pick as the best California Shiraz for under $10.

Article - A Toast to the Tasty Turkey!

S.H. December 15, 2004, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2003 vintage, bottle)
Rating 84. A Best Buy. Fresh and jammy, with youthful acidity, and very dry. Full-bodied and clean. Try with pizza, burgers and BBQ chicken.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

Bon Appetit magazine, November 2004 (2003 vintage, bottle)
This vibrant, bargain-priced Shiraz packs bright fruit flavors.

Delicato Vineyards

Mike Dunne, December 10, 2003, Sacramento Bee (2002 vintage, box)
The wine is dry, light, fresh and shot through with the varietal's typical blueberry fruitiness. It's smooth and so adaptable it will fit right in on the buffet table.

Dunne on wine: Winemakers think inside the box

Mike Dunne, Fine Living (2001 vintage, bottle)
The 2000 version of this wine cleaned up on the competition circuit. The 2001 looks cut from the same cloth, boasting the kind of fresh berry fruitiness and caressing finish that boosted the 2000 to so many awards.

Favorite Things : Grilling out? Here are some wine suggestions : Fine Living

Carol Emert, December 4, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle (2002 vintage, box)
full on the palate and busy, with wide-ranging aromas of toast, cherry, mushroom and black olive. Flavorwise, it's a winning combination of cherry and raspberry, cinnamon and a hint of bittersweet chocolate. It's a well-made wine with an extended finish.

Box wine is getting better all the time

Chris Sherman, July 27, 2005, St Petersburg Times (2002 vintage, box)
Rich, sweet nose of spice and cedar and a taste of raspberries and cherry glaze.

Taste: Uncorked: Think inside the box

S.H., November 15, 2003, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2002 vintage, bottle)
Rating 90. A Best Buy. The grapes for this impressive Aussie-style Shiraz, from Lodi and Clarksburg, are ripe; the palate boasts has rich flavors of cherries, black raspberries, blueberries and plums. Feels succulent, with a smooth texture and a long, sweetish finish, but it’s perfectly dry. At this price, you can’t go wrong.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

Rod Phillips, September 10, 2003, Ottawa Citizen (2002 vintage, bottle)
A well-priced California Shiraz in a classic New World style: Full-bodied and juicy with gobs of dark fruit, gamy and smoky notes and hints of spice. It's lightly tannic for drinking now with all kinds of red meat dishes that have light to moderate seasoning.

Worlds of Wine: So many vintages to choose from

Robert Parker, July 2003, The Wine Advocate (2002 vintage, bottle)
85 POINTS . . . one of the biggest surprises of my tastings...

Delicato Vineyards

October 2003, Wine & Spirits magazine (2002 vintage, bottle)
Exceptional Value . . . About as jammy as an $8 wine can dare to get, this simple, irresistible shiraz has a lush core of deep blueberry fruit that doesn't draw away from its sunny disposition.

Delicato Vineyards

Bernard Ledermann, July/August 2002, Buffalo Spree (2001 vintage, bottle)
This is a light and eminently drinkable Shiraz. Shows soft tannins and abounds in blackberry flavors and peppery spice.

Buffalo Spree Magazine

W.E., December 1, 2002, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2001 vintage, bottle)
Rating 85. A Best Buy. On the nose, jammy black fruit, particularly black grapes, shines out from under oak and nut accents. Medium-full on the palate, with chewy plum and blackberry fruit, and an undercurrent of herb that continues on through the finish. A perennial good-value wine.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine - Wine Ratings & Reviews: Review Details

Rick VanSickle, March 17 2002, Calgary Sun (2000 vintage, bottle)
Blackcurrants, cherries and plums ... it’s hard to beat this shiraz for the price. A very nice, spicy wine that will even improve in the bottle.

California dreamin’

W.E., October 1, 2001, Wine Enthusiast magazine (2000 vintage, bottle)
Rating 87. A Best Buy . . . full on the palate and busy, with wide-ranging aromas of toast, cherry, mushroom and black olive. Flavorwise, it's a winning combination of cherry and raspberry, cinnamon and a hint of bittersweet chocolate. It's a well-made wine with an extended finish.

Box wine is getting better all the time

Anthony Dias Blue, Essential Wine Guide, (2000 vintage, bottle)
Ripe, sweet blackberry fruit leading to a long, clean finish.

Essential Wine Guide at

Rick VanSickle, March 17 2002, Calgary Sun (2000 vintage, bottle)
Blackcurrants, cherries and plums ... it’s hard to beat this shiraz for the price. A very nice, spicy wine that will even improve in the bottle.

California dreamin’

Josh Wesson, November 11, 2006, The Splendid Table (transcribed from audio) (unknown vintage, box)
Delicato makes an insanely good Shiraz from California . . .
The Splendid Table

Reviews in blogs:

Box Wine Guy, December 10, 2004, Box Wines blog (2004 vintage, box)
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10 . . . A powerful scent of spicy cherries practically bursts from the wine as you pour it. The flavor is a bit more subtle, tasting of blackberry and cherry. Overall, the flavor is balanced and quite smooth. The finish lingers with a fruity spiciness. The start and finish of this wine are so wonderful that they overshadow its pleasant flavor.

Wines » Delicato Shiraz 2004

Todd S. Wilder, June 22, 2004, Wilder on Wine (2003 vintage, bottle)

The color is a deep garnet with purple overtones (or are they undertones… I can never remember).

The first sniff of the bouquet is spicy, with berry fruit that smells just a little baked (which can happen with warm-climate grapes). Simple, spicy. With time in the glass that blows off for the most part, leaving spicy black cherry and jammy blackberry.

On the palate, it’s a rich and heavy red that’s lifted and balanced by almost enough acidity and more than enough pepper. The fruit flavors taste ripe and sweet enough to work wonderfully with anything off the grill (but don’t think the wine is sweet – it’s a dry/no residual sugar red). While the finish may not break any distance records, it lasts way longer than that of most $5 wines.

2003 Delicato Family Vineyards Shiraz

Daniel Rogov, June 10, 2004, Rogov's Ramblings (2003 vintage, bottle)
Dark cherry-red, medium-bodied, with an appealing berry-cherry personality and just enough hints of spices and oak to keep you interested. Drink now or in the next year or so. Score 85.

Strat's Place - Daniel Rogov - Tasting Notes

Steve, April 1, 2006, Steve's Ten Dollar Wine Challenge blog (transcribed from audio) (2003 vintage, bottle)
Delicato 2003 Shiraz In tasting this wine there's not much in the nose. It's got sort of a tart cherry smell; with a sort of black odor not unlike the burnt water logged sewer like aroma you get when walking through the charred remains of a house that had caought fire and had its flames doused with a fire hose. Hints of burned matress and the melted plastic housings of home electronics devices with dark cherry, smoked trout, and ozone. The smell of this wine says "brace yourself." The flavor is slightly sour and cherry like, with a rather nice spice finish reminiscent of black pepper. However, once the pepper taste dissipates, there is a lingering, blood-like aftertaste of rust; the taste I'd expect if the wine had come in a steel can. I've noticed the same flavor in canned green beans and stewed tomatoes before, and I have to say, I'm not very fond of it. This wine is just awful. The flavors are just really off. It's so awful, that I dumped 3/4 of the bottle down the drain; and i'm not one to dump bottles of wine down the drain.
Steve's Ten Dollar Wine Challenge: Challenge 1: Syrah, Shiraz, Shazam!

S. Duda, Wine X magazine (2002 vintage, bottle)
A great effort was made to find a new, super-cheap favorite red. The reigning champ? 2001 Yellowtail Shiraz (six bucks!!!). The contenders? Well, the 2002 Yellowtail vintage and the 2002 Delicato California shiraz. . . The Delicato ($5.99) has gotten tons of press touting its big plum and blueberry flavors. It is, indeed, a yummy wine.

Wine X Magazine

Mike McQueen, February 27, 2006, Life on the vine blog (2001 vintage, bottle)
I like the 2001 vintage, if you can get it. If not, grab the first bottle you see on the shelf. It sells for under $6 most places, and it is without a doubt the best buy for the money of any red -- or white -- wine. It downed a glass or two with a pepperoni pizza.

Life on the vine

Randy Buckner, November 24, 2001, Robin Garr's Wine Lover's Page blog (2000 vintage, bottle)
A very fruity, jammy wine striving for over achievement. Look for mint, smoked meat and vanilla notes. Very approachable now. 85/88.

Wine Lovers' Page/Bucko Rates New Releases

Added on 2/27/07:
J, February 27, 2007, Ashley's Bog Secret blog (unknown vintage, box)
. . . it was great! It reminded me of the kind of wine that people in Italy Spain and France to drink very day. It is not expensive. It is good and it goes beautifully with food.

Ashley's Big Secret Blog: Boxed In

Added on 3/22/07:
Sonadora, March 14, 2007, Wannabe Wino blog
On the nose, I get an overwhelming sweet, dark fruit scent. So blackberries, but more in their candied forms. And sugar plums, rather than fresh plums. My first impression is that this is going to be a sweet wine. As it sits in my glass I get an underlying chocolate aroma. In the mouth, there is dark fruit and a little bit of spice. It's not as sweet as I expected it to be, which is a relief. I can't seem to distinguish which dark fruits are coming through. It's smooth and easy to drink and I have to keep in mind that averaging it out, it costs less than $5 a bottle. The wine is not complex, but I wouldn't really expect that at the price point.

Wannabe Wino: Box Wine

Added on 4/16/07:
vaaccess, January 7, 2007, Wine.woot! Forum
Fifth and far down the list is the Delicato 2005 Shiraz. Holy cow is that stuff sweet. I'd rate it a 72.

Woot Wine: The Community: Woot Wine Requests?

Reviews in stores & newsletters:

P.C., The Wine Source (Baltimore MD), August 23, 2006, Unfiltered (2005 vintage, box)
. . . this is very good wine. And, let me tell you, I hate having to admit that. I truly wish this wine sucked so I could let my bias against the stuff on the outside of the box win. Instead, I’m forced to admit that if you’re looking for Syrah from California, then you could do much, much worse than this wine.

winemail issue 17, August 23.p65

Randal Caparoso, Novus Vinum online wine guide (unkown vintage, bottle)
This could very well be the best wine sold for under $8 in the world as we know it. It positively exudes the best qualities of the grape—sweet, violet perfumes, touches of ginger and cracked peppercorn, and black and blue berries in the nose. Once you’re hooked, it proceeds to slap you across the palate—full, yet amazingly soft and sensuous flavors suggesting the ripest black cherries, plums steeped in pepper, and even an exotic touch of pomegranate.

Dreams of Velvety Reds

July 8, 2002, Professional Friends of Wine online wine guide (2001 vintage, bottle)
Dark color; Dense, complex, sweet, young, grapey, tutti-frutti, black fruit, blackberry, raisin, gamey, oak, tar, dill and mint (onion?, bleach?) aromas; clean, ripe, juicy, black currant, blackberry, mincemeat, mineral and slightly musty flavors; smooth, light, thin body (diluted?); good balance, slightly sweet, slightly tart; flavorful, drying, slightly hard, slightly tannic finish. 13.5% alcohol. Although this wine has a slightly tannic finish, it has good flavors and is fairly easy to drink. It is neither exciting, nor offensive, which are much better stats than most wines in the price range. ($5) BEST BUY

Barbecue RedsTasting Notes | Professional Friends of Wine

Speakeasy Jazz, Winston-Salem (unknown vintage, unkown package)
Dense purple hue that coats the glass with its intensity and richness. The aroma unfolds with blueberries and plums and finishes with nuances of oak. This is a full-bodied wine with amazing depth and complexity revealed in layers from blueberry to blackberry and leather to earth. The tannins are soft and rounded and dissolve into a lingering plum and spice finish.

Speakeasy Jazz | Winston-Salem, NC

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Can Boxed Wine Taste Great After Five Months?

According to Jon Fredrickson, a wine industry consultant in the San Francisco area, the answer is yes. An article in today's Miami Herald tells us that Fredrickson did his own testing. ''It drove my wife crazy. I left a box in the refrigerator for about five months. I honestly didn't notice any deterioration in taste or quality.''

First screw tops, now boxes: New ways to fight oxidation

Associated Press

The hottest-selling wines don't come in a bottle -- they come in a box.

Winemakers have been getting creative with packaging -- swapping corks for screw caps or putting premium varieties like syrah and pinot grigio in boxes -- and sales figures show it's working.

Though just a part of the burgeoning wine industry, sales of premium-priced, 3-liter boxes are increasing faster than any other segment, according to marketing information company ACNielsen.

Jon Fredrikson, an industry consultant based in the San Francisco Bay area, said boxed wines appeal to the growing number of Americans drinking wine regularly. They want something that doesn't need uncorking and will last longer than a few days once opened.

''The advantage of boxed wines is just one of extreme convenience,'' Fredrikson said. ``Once they're open, it's just so easy to draw a nice glass of wine. It's ideal for working couples, people that are kind of passing in the night.''

Boxes are really bags in boxes with spigots that keep air out. That keeps the wine from oxidizing. Fredrikson did his own taste test to see how the box measured up.

''It drove my wife crazy. I left a box in the refrigerator for about five months. I honestly didn't notice any deterioration in taste or quality,'' he said.

The amount inside is also a good value. A 3-liter box contains the equivalent of four bottles of wine, and the cost translates to around $4 to $5 a bottle for quality wine. A box should keep for at least four weeks after opening.

According to ACNielsen, sales of 3-liter boxes rose 77 percent over the past year to nearly $31 million. The most expensive category, boxes costing $16 or more, saw the most dramatic growth, rising 537 percent to nearly $9 million in sales. ACNielsen records its sales data from supermarket point-of-sale purchases.

Overall wine sales during the same period grew about 9 percent to $3.9 billion.

Boxed wine actually has been around for years. But traditionally, it was low-brow stuff that the bottle crowd wouldn't touch.

Not anymore. Now, 90 percent of sales of 3-liter boxes are by people switching some of their buying from bottles. The rest are starting to buy more wine or trying it for the first time, according to ACNielsen. Those figures come from a set of 125,000 households that use in-home scanners from the company to record their purchases.

''There's a whole group of consumers who are comfortable with purchasing wine that's not in a traditional bottle,'' said Danny Brager, vice president of ACNielsen's alcohol beverage team. ``I believe it's got some staying power. In some other countries, the segment we're talking about is much larger than in the U.S.''

In particular, the popularity of screw-cap wines has helped boxes overcome their old stigma, said vintner Ryan Sproule, who started Black Box Wines in 2003 and has collected a half-dozen medals for his wines.

''That's helped us quite a bit -- if people can make the mental leap from cork to screw cap, making the leap to a box is a little easier,'' Sproule said. 'If you asked anyone four years ago about screw-cap wine, they'd go, `Oh, I'd never drink that.' ''

Black Box wines aren't even available in bottles; Sproule figured there was just no room in the market for another bottled wine. He said he has a cult following of boaters and campers who like the portability of boxes.

New brands introduced in the past two years make up more than half of boxed wine sales. The top-selling varieties in boxed wine are chardonnay and merlot. The biggest growth in the past year has been in pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon.

''Some people think, `Oh, it's in a box, it can't be good,''' he said. ``They don't understand. This is an upscale, premium box.''
First screw tops, now boxes: New ways to fight oxidation

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