Thinking Inside the Box Wine
Sometimes you just need a lot of wine. That’s where I see the value of boxed wine. There are plenty of times in life when people will care less that you’re gracing them with a 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay or a 2007 Bordeaux or Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe. These are the times when you’re camping, grilling, or entertaining your less discerning friends and the beverage container resembles one of those red plastic cups you used to charge $5 for at college parties. These are the times when folks might be more concerned about the buzz than the nose. Box wine comes in handy when you need a lot of juice. HOWEVER, there is no excuse for BAD WINE. There are wines that will rock your world and there are wines to clean the drain out with. Regardless of the party or situation, life is too short to drink bad wine.
Both of the wines in this review arrived via FedEx sporting a curiously shaped package. The Octavin Home Wine Bar, as they’re called, is a three liter container (four regular bottles) with a vacuum-packed bag and spout that keep air from getting in contact with wine (oxygen is the single biggest factor to a wine’s demise). According to the literature, the wine should have 10 times the shelf life of a regular bottle. If it’s any good, it won’t need that long *wink*. It’s also worth noting that the Octavin is much more eco-friendly because of the lower shipping weight and smaller package waste. Still, we don’t drink crappy wine.
The Octavin packaging is available with 10 different wines ranging from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to a big Central California Coast Cabernet. Now, on with the review:
2008 Monthaven Chardonnay
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from various vineyards in the California Central Coast. Partially 35% barrel fermented, cold fermented, and barrel aged. 13.5%abv; 40,000 cases made
- The Swirl: Very pale straw color, much lighter than a traditional Chardonnay. Swirl does indicate some thickness to the wine. Clean and clear
- The Sniff: Not a lot happening on the nose. There are some nice plays of pear, subtle hints of tropics, and a slight mineral aroma that throws it off just a bit (not much).
- The Sip: Pleasing on the mouth-feel. Surprisingly nice for coming out of a box. In a blind tasting I would certainly put this on par with some $12 Chardonnay I’ve recently had. The subtle tropics continue on the palate with a tad citrus lemon. The acidity seems slightly off balanced on the finish.
- The Score: At the equivalent of $6 per bottle ($24 per Octavin), I can easily score this a 3 and offer it as a recommended wine for summer BBQ parties or camping adventures.
Side Note: This wine was consumed over the course of several weeks and as time passed the wine did seem to retain its overall quality.
Other review from Josh Sweeney at Wine Accessorized; One review on Cellar Tracker at 87 points
2008 Big House Red
- The Stuff: While in the video I refer to 6 different grapes being in the wine, I must admit that I was wrong because there are 13 different wine grapes in this bend, including five that I can check off my wine century list (Algianico 6%, Tannat 6%, Nero D’Avola 5%, Sargentino 4%, and Touriga 3%). The other grapes in this wine are 23% Syrah, 14% Petite Sirah, 9% Grenache, 9% Montepuliciano, 6% Mourvedre, 6% Sangiovese, 3% Barbera, and 3% Petit Verdot. The wine clocks in at 13.5%abv and 30,000 cases were made.
- The Swirl: Bright purple with 50% translucence and slightly thin and watery at the edges
- The Sniff: The wine struck me as sweet cherry candy with some earthy dust and oak.
- The Sip: Definitely not the big red as I expected from the moniker. The mouth feel is slightly thin. The first impression was an oaky off balance. As I re-evaluated the wine there was some nice mild red berry flavor good back end structure and a descent finish. Not a wine you pull out of a nice dinner but certainly palatable for burgers.
- The Score: I wasn’t overwhelmed by the wine and even at a price of $20 for the 3L ($5 per bottle), I can only score it a 3 minus out of 5.
Other review from Josh Sweeney at Wine Accessorized; 6 scores on Cellar Tracker average of 86
Both of these wines give me hope for boxed wine. I’m impressed with the packaging, convenience and longevity of the wine. Neither of these are special occasion wines BUT, neither of them were what I would consider bad wines either. I look forward to exploring the other eight Octavin container wines.
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intent to review
Tags: Box Wine, Chardonnay
6 comments on “Thinking Inside the Box Wine”
It’s interesting to me that you and I ended up on opposite ends of average for the Big House Red. Perhaps I’m not as sensitive to the oak as you are, because I actually ended up liking the red blend better than the Monthaven, though I did get the thin texture and Pinot-Noir-like light red-fruit, earthy characteristics as well. Still, I think you and I were pretty spot on other than that on both wines.
Octavin’s offerings really do give me hope for the future of boxed wines. If the other newer boxed wines are as consistent as these guys, we might very well be witnessing the beginning of a widespread change in wine packaging.
I’m with you on that one, Josh. You hit the nail on the head about being on the opposite sides of average. You aggregate our scores and those of the cellar tracker reviews and you come up with an 87 point wine. That at $5-6 per bottle isn’t a bad thing.
I wonder how the industry would react to a 91+ point wine in a box?
Mass looting of wine shops, grounded planes at airports, wine critics drawing the mark of the beast on their foreheads, 9.7-9.9 point earthquakes in Napa, Red Mountain, and Bordeaux, and Bobby Parkerchuck explodes from a Chardonnay tank at Bronco Winery like Dr. Manhattan after being atomized.
Eh. There will be a little furor, some of the stodgy traditionalists will decry it as absurdity, and within a few weeks it becomes old news. It’ll take a few years of consistently high scores for anyone to really make noise with boxed wines.
What’s interesting for me is that I often get boxed wine samples, almost all of which are 3L, and within a week the PR folks are asking if I tried it yet.
And I’m thinking… uhm, it would be nice to sample it before an event or party so I’m not pouring 2.999L down the drain… 😉
I’m with you Joe. I haven’t gotten calls from PR folks yet, but I’m sure my pile of samples isn’t quite as large as your pile…yet… 😉
Have you tried either of these Octavin wines yet? Curious on your take.
No mention anywhere on the package that the label is registered to The Wine Group? (Makers of Franzia 5L?)
Good for the folks at The Wine Group for continually improving the quality of what’s going in Bag in Box packaging.