NEW Natural Origins Organic Boxed Wine
NEW Natural Origins Organic Boxed Wine
I have been keeping a secret: I’ve never purchased a bag-in-box wine or tasted any wine from a box. I usually only drink wine at home and occasionally I will buy a bottle at a restaurant. It’s not that I think they are bad or low class; I really don’t have the need to have wine that will last over multiple days. I’m not sure what made me decide to taste and review a box wine, but it was a bit eye opening.
Randall’s started carrying the Natural Origins wines a couple weeks ago. Currently there is an Unoaked Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. All of these wines are from Tupungato, Argentina. Tupungato is in the Uco Valley. For a quick geography lesson, the Uco Valley is near the western border of Argentina near Chile. It is approximately on the same latitude as Buenos Aires. The Uco Valley’s climate is continental. The average high temperature during January is about 85 degrees. (Remember their seasons are reversed.) The winter low occurs in July and it’s about 31 degrees. They get over 250 days of sunshine and less than 20 inches of rain all year. Warm, sunny, and dry: perfect for grapes. The elevation of the valley ranges between 3,000 and 4,000 feet above sea level.
Malbec is one of my favorite grapes. It used to be widely used in Bordeaux. The grape is very fickle. It requires a lot of sun and an extended hang time to fully ripen. The large number of sunny days combined with the small amount of rainfall makes the Uco valley (as well as other areas in Argentina) a perfect location for this grape. With global warming, many Bordeaux Chateau have started planting Malbec since the climate is becoming more favorable. The Malbec grape has one very important characteristic: it has a very high tannin content. While this may turn off many people, I feel that this means that oak barrels are not needed to impart tannins for more complex flavors. This also means the wines can be produced inexpensively since there are no barrels involved. Cheaper wine is good for everyone. The wine is also made with organic grapes. I will not buy a wine just because it is made with organic grapes. First and foremost, the wine needs to be good. Being organic is jus t the cherry on the top.
Along with tasting a bag-in-box wine, I have changed my normal tasting ritual. I will only taste wines that have been opened day-of. I always get sales reps who will try to submit wines they opened the day before, but I don’t think it’s possible to make a valid judgement on a wine if it is compromised. It might not be bad, but it is definitely not how it is intended to be consumed. I cannot in good faith tell someone to buy a wine, open it today, but don’t drink it until tomorrow. Part of the allure of box wine is that it should be good for multiple days. To this point, I did originally taste the wine when I opened it, but my actual review is based on a sample taken five days later.
First and most importantly, I did not see any significant degradation of flavors. I can’t say it tasted exactly the same, but it was very close. After five days, an opened wine at my house is not even worthy of cooking. Very dark color with purple highlights. Malbec is known for the dark color. I find lots of blueberry on the nose. A little deeper, the plum notes start coming through. I also find a bit of sweetness on the nose. Someone in the group mentioned brown sugar, a fitting descriptor. Super fruity on the palate, but I also get a second layer of flavor, more earthy and herbal. The finish is good, not the longest wine, but good enough and the finish really keeps the palate refreshed. I found I almost immediately wanted another taste.
For the rest of the week, the Natural Origins Malbec, Unoaked Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are on sale at VIP pricing for $14.99 each. The wines are normally $17.99 each! If my math is correct, a 3-liter box equals four bottles. Four bottles for $18 is $4.50 per bottle. In regards to the Malbec, I cannot think of a better wine under $5 per bottle. The VIP sale price brings it down to $3.75 per bottle. Wrapping it all up, it checks all the boxes: Good Wine, Great Price, Long Lasting!