Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 5 liter box
Our Rating: 7 out of 10
Almaden Cabernet Sauvignon in a box has the distinction of being the best of a group that is, at best, fair. At least in the Midwest US, three brands have dominated the cheap box business – Franzia, Vella, and Almaden. These boxes are always 5 liters in size, and may sell as cheaply as $8 for a box – a little over a buck per bottle-equivalent. The Merlot and Cabernet varieties tend to cost a bit more, generally $10 – $13 per box. Even for those, the cost is incredibly cheap and the box preserves the wine for far, far longer than a bottle would…
With the price comes middling quality. The Almaden boxed Cab is probably the best of the 5 liter group, at least from a red standpoint. It has a pleasant, if faint, fruity/floral aroma. Its color is deep garnet. The flavor is of berries, with fairly strong tannins. The overall impression is a bit thin and light. A couple of times I detected a very slight, fishy off-note. The finish offers a lingering hint of pepper.
Wine lovers are likely to find that the Almaden Cabernet comes up a bit short compared to some lower-end bottled fare or more costly, premium boxed wines (usually sold in 3 liter boxes), but it can still serve as a good buy for economical party or barbecue use, or for a “glass of red wine a day” consumer looking more for a great value than subtle flavor. A box should hold the flavor for a month, making for much easier management than bottles. Spicy food might be a good pairing, too, since it demands less subtlety and more flavor.
One plus to the Almaden Cabernet is the reliable spigot. While for some reason Franzia box spigots often dribble like incontinent octagenarians, the Almaden Cab pours and shuts off with nary a wasted drop. The spigot is of the rotating knob type – perhaps slightly less convenient than the push-button style, but effective nonetheless.