Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sutherlands Try Boxed Reds

From the Battle Creek Enquirer, Battle Creek, MI, September 6, 2007:

Wine in Nashville
Boxed reds have improved in quality

Last week we reviewed boxed white wines to augment tailgating, but for many fans, red wine might be more appealing - especially in a box.

There are plenty of reasons to go red on game day - to pair with burgers and hot dogs, to avoid chilled drinks once the weather turns cold, or simply because a lot of people just prefer red wine.

Boxed reds are available in a wide range of varietals, and although they did not fare as well in our tasting as the white wines overall, boxed reds have improved in quality in the past few years. And just like the whites, the reds come in unbreakable, vacuum-sealed containers holding the equivalent to four to six standard bottles, making them easy to transport and dispense to the masses (who are supporting your team, of course).

We tasted four boxed red wines. Here are the results:

2005 Delicato shiraz. $18.99/ 3 liters

The aroma reminded us of raspberries, blackberries, cedar, clove, pepper and bacon fat. On the palate, we found flavors of black cherries, tea leaves, lots of tannins and alcohol and a deep, dark coffee finish. This wine was far more complex and better balanced than the others and an obvious choice as our favorite. We thought the high alcohol might appeal to certain tailgaters, too.

Non-vintage Almaden red sangria. $17.49/5 liters

We discovered scents of cherries and lemon/lime soda - like a Shirley Temple. In the mouth, we tasted orange gumdrops and a hint of cinnamon. A sweet blend of red wine and fruit, this wine would be best over ice.

Non-vintage Pinot Evil pinot noir. $19.99/3 liters

The nose suggested lots of cherry, plum, fudge and cotton candy. It was very light-bodied with watery flavors and a vinegary finish. The nose was promising, but the palate was meek.

2005 Free Range red Bordeaux. $29.99/3 liters

In the bouquet, we found scents of ashes, coffee, black cherries, stems and weeds. The wine showed stemmy flavors on the attack and green bell peppers on the finish. This wine did not compare favorably at all with the others.

. . .

Contact Frank Sutherland at Frank and his daughter Kate Sutherland's wine-tasting group consists of representatives from the five wine distributors in Nashville, Tenn., a wine collector, a sommelier and food columnist Thayer Wine.

Battle Creek Enquirer - - Battle Creek, Mich.

Hardys Boxed Wines Reviewed

From the News-Leader of Springfield, MO, August 26, 2007.

Boxed wine cheap, but doesn't taste it

Hardys of southeastern Australia is a major producer of wines in the land down under.

One of the company's claims to fame is the production of really good wine packaged in three-liter boxes, the equivalent of four regular bottles of wine. These boxes are made of heavy cardboard with a plastic bag inside that is filled with wine and sealed. At the bottom of the bag is a pouring spigot.

The wine can be kept in the refrigerator or on a shelf without any deterioration problems from oxidation for an incredibly long six weeks. The boxes also are a great way to carry your wine to a party, barbecue or out to the lake.

The wines from southeastern Australia are similar in style to the wines of California's Central Coast: full-flavored, fruity and very easy to drink. To us, the Australian wines have a bit of a mineral flavor in the background which enhances the drinker's enjoyment. Putting it simply: Hardys wines are good, sound table wines. They are the type of wines that you can serve every night with dinner without fracturing the budget. While they are affordable, they are not cheap in quality. Hardys offers an excellent value for your wine-buying dollar.

- Hardys 2006 South Eastern Australia Shiraz (three-liter box/$18.99): Shiraz is about as Australian as zinfandel is American. It is the signature wine of the land down under. The grape variety used in shiraz is known as the syrah to the rest of the world. The name and style "shiraz" has become so popular that many other wine-producing countries are now making shiraz wines, including our own. Hardys 2006 shiraz is typical of an Australian shiraz, displaying all of the charm and warmth for which the variety is famous. The deep ruby color heralds an aroma of full and inviting plum, red berry, spices and oak. The flavor is clean and soft with no rough edges or harsh tannins. There are hints of red summer berries mingling with plum, and a soft and interesting oak background. This wine will go exceptionally well with lamb dishes as well as lighter meats and pasta.

- Hardys 2006 South Eastern Australia Merlot (three-liter box/$18.99): The idea of the term "fruit-forward" will make perfect sense to you with the first sip of this excellent merlot. The aromas of plums, blackberries and cedar rise from the glass when the wine is poured. The flavor is a romp of blackberries, boysenberries and plum wrapped in a soft oak robe. The finish is expansive and fruity. To sum it up, this wine at this price is an outstanding bargain.

- 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.

- Hardys 2006 South Eastern Australia Cabernet Sauvignon (three-liter box/$18.99). This wine is a full-flavored delight that is further enhanced by a deep, dark, ruby color. The aromas of cherry and blackberry are presented up front and seem to fill the room when the cork is pulled. The flavor is as big and expansive as the aroma and is loaded with cassis, spice and a dusty mushroom flavor in the background. This is a well-made, full-flavored wine that takes second place to none in or around its price range.

Sheila and Bennet Bodenstein of Nixa write about wines each week for the News-Leader. E-mail your wine questions to | Homes