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Leave It to the French
Préférez-vous une boîte en bois?
Whilst strolling the aisles of my local wine shop (in search of beer, actually, but that’s a column for another day), I wandered briefly in the boxed wine aisle. And lo! This 2016 Côtes du Rhône blend from Domaine du Grand Plantier caught my eye!
I don’t have to tell you, Constant Reader, that the box is a highly underrated form for wine. The shape is easier and less complicated for shipping, which saves us all money. The interior bag holds way more than a regular 750ml bottle, so you’re getting more bang for your buck. And it lasts longer than a bottle that is open to the air. Unfortunately bad cheap wine took it over, and the box got a bad reputation. As did screwcaps back in the day, but many wineries use them now to prevent waste due to corkage.
So what I want to know is: would you be more or less apt to try a box if it wasn’t cardboard and looked like something someone actually built?
Clearly I needed to investigate further and boxed this one up. Price was $28. It holds 3 liters of wine or the equivalent of four regular bottles, so $7 a bottle? C’est ça!
According to their website, “The Domaine du Grand Plantier, located in VEDENE at the gates of the famous Palais des Papes, is only five kilometers from the equally famous vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.” Heyyyy. Trés legit.
There’s un peu of assembly required.
I removed sticker numéro uno, et voila!
Remember this is four bottles’ worth! This is way easier to carry.
You maybe want to put this together before you commence drinking.
…Okay, I am not the most crafty person on the planet, but I had a little bit of a time getting the tap to flow. The label says to pull on the tap until you hear a click. Well, I pulled and I didn’t hear a click or a clique or anything. But after I poked and prodded at the tap some more, whatever I did do did something. And instead of the drips I got initially, an actual flow of wine came forth.
The wine was definitely too warm. I did not chill this box, and the temps in my basement wine cellar average 72F, far, far higher than cellar temperature is supposed to be. I floated a couple ice cubes in my glass for just a few seconds, which can help bring your glass’ temperature down some without diluting your wine. That made it taste a little fresher.
The blend is 60% grenache, 25% syrah, 10% mourvedre, and 5% carignan. Alcohol level is no joke at 14.5%. It tastes a bit cooked, but I don’t know if I can bring that back by chilling the bag or not. As it is now, it’s quite savory and the finish is pretty short.
I can’t make a fair judgment on this wine right now. I have a (carefully socially distanced) Meetup to go to on Saturday night, so I might bring it along and see if I like it better once it’s chilled. Now that I know the bag comes separate from the box, if I try this brand again, I may put the bag in the fridge once I get it home and see if that helps.
I still think boxed wine is a good idea, but serving temp is a consideration for a good experience. And I couldn’t say right now that this is almost three times better than the $9.99 box of shiraz I got at Trader Joe’s recently. But I think it’s worth it to keep investigating.
What do you think? Would you give this is a try? Let me know in the comments or email me!