Boxes Top Bargain Wine List

The San Francisco Chronicle’s W. Blake Gray just published a list of red wine bargains. Several boxed wines were among the top ten listed. Black Box Wines got the top nod:

Bowing to the market, I tasted 35 bargain-priced Merlots from eight countries recently; these were the best 10 wines.

My very favorite came in a box. The nonvintage (NV) Black Box Wines Sonoma County Merlot ($24 for 3 liters) is an outstanding wine for this price range; a true bargain superstar. While $24 may not seem cheap, consider that the box holds the equivalent of four standard 750 ml bottles. This wine is both fruit-forward and complex, with flavors and aromas of black and red berries, a floral note and a measured touch of oak. The fruit tastes more red than black on the medium-long finish. Plenty of $24 bottles of Merlot aren’t as good as this.

Gray’s article contains an interesting finding – for whatever reason, the boxed versions of the same wines may taste different than the bottled versions:

The 2004 Delicato Family Vineyards California Merlot ($7) in a bottle tastes of slightly sweet red fruit — strawberries and red currant. In contrast, the 2004 Delicato Family Vineyards California Merlot ($18 for 3-liter box) is much oakier and more tannic, with flavors of blackberry and wood and decent acidity

One wonders if there’s actually some difference due to the packaging, or whether the variation is just a sampling issue. It’s possible that if one purchased a different bottle or box that was packaged from a different batch that variations would be found as well.

Overall, box wine fans should be encouraged by these selections. While admittedly we’re dealing in the bargain sector, the fact that boxes acquitted themselves so well (and indeed, snagged the “favorite” spot) should create one more small step in box wines getting the respect they have overseas but still lack in the U.S.

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