The Search for the Best Boxed Wine: Week 8

The Back Story:

This weekend was the first weekend in a long time where I had absolutely no obligations. I got to watch baseball and basketball, get caught up on some work, and, perhaps most importantly, enjoy a glass of wine on the porch without interruption. At 1PM, the temperature was in the mid-80s, the sun was bright without a cloud in the sky. My friends, this was a day that called for a Sauvignon Blanc.

Coincidentally, on Thursday, I got two more boxed wine industry samples, a red and a white. While I’m certainly not one to judge someone’s drinking preferences, I was in absolutely no mood to have a red wine on such a gorgeous, warm day. To kill two birds with one stone, I decided to go ahead and get my boxed wine tasting done early so that, in case the boxed wine was in fact a good one, I’d have a near limitless supply of buzz for my lazy Saturday. I can tell you for a fact I got a nice little sunburn that afternoon. What about the wine? Well… the wine I opened that day was the Silver Birch 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. It’s from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, so if you know what that means, you pretty much already know what to expect from this wine.

The Results:

Silver Birch Sauvignon BlancThe appearance of the wine is a very pale straw, and it appears to have an average viscosity.

The nose of the wine is primarily tropical and citrus, with a slight heat coming from the alcohol. There are distinct notes of mango and lime, and I’m getting a hint of herbs as well. It actually smells like a dry Viognier.

The mouthfeel of the wine is lighter and active, as Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough are wont to be, and it packs a punch in its compact frame, as Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough are wont to do.

The flavor of the wine is very dry, very crisp, with an attack of tart orange and lemon flavors with a hint of sage. There’s a bit of cut grass, and a medium finish of watermelon candy. The flavor holds up fairly well to the acidity and alcohol (at 13%), which are both more prominent than they should be but don’t get in the way of the flavor too badly.

For the Casual Drinker:

As with pretty much any New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you’re getting a dry, highly acidic wine. Heartburn? Check. The flavors are fairly typical for a Sauvignon Blanc, so you’re getting mainly citrus with some subtle tropical and herbaceous notes. The standard Sauvignon Blanc pairings apply here: veggie dishes, lighter seafood fare, chicken with a lighter spice or pepper rub, and sushi. It’s very crisp and refreshing, a perfect wine for being out in the hot sun.

The Conclusion:

This wine is as good as any sub-$10 Sauv Blanc I’ve tasted, and at $22, or $5.50 per bottle, it’s a fantastic bargain. The only issue I have with it is a minor imbalance, and it’s easy enough to overlook and enjoy. 6/10

Note: This boxed wine was provided by the distributor as an industry sample.

Current Line-up:

Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc 2009

  • Week 0 – 6/10 – tropical, citrus, herbal flavors and nose. Slightly imbalanced acidity and alcohol.

Double Dog Dare Chardonnay, California NV

  • Week 0 – 3/10 – Very off-putting nose, dull, listless color, rough mouth feel, apple and oak flavor, imbalanced acidity.
  • Week 1 – 2/10 – Flavor and balance have taken a dive. The chemical from the nose is noticeable on the flavor

Big House Red, California 2008

  • Week 0 – 7/10 – Lean, light texture, floral and red-fruit flavors, good balance, slightly hot nose, medium finish
  • Week 1 – 6/10 – Flavor has deteriorated a bit, and there’s a harshness that I possibly didn’t detect before
  • Week 2 – 5/10 – Harshness has intensified. The flavors are still good, just slowly fading.

Wine Cube California Vintner’s Red Blend 2008

  • Week 0 – 3/10 – Weak structure, heavy oak nose, red-fruit profile, heavy vanilla oak flavor, light-bodied, very short finish.
  • Week 1 – 3/10 – Exactly the same as before. Somehow, and I don’t know how, this sweet vanilla red wine manages to be drinkable.
  • Week 2 – 3/10 – Nose is a little bit off, but the flavor is still the same as before.
  • Week 3 – 3/10 – Same flavor, just a bit weaker. Odd buttered popcorn scent on the nose now.

Monthaven Central Coast Chardonnay 2008

  • Week 0 – 5/10 – Imbalanced (high) acidity, balanced alcohol, apple, tropical, oaky flavors and nose, medium-bodied, way too bitter finish.
  • Week 1 – 5/10 – Similar balance in acidity and alcohol, similar flavors and nose, similar bitter finish
  • Week 2 – 5/10 – Starting to taste a bit more imbalanced, flavors and nose have faded slightly, finish is less bitter
  • Week 3 – 4/10 – Odd caramel scent on the nose. Flavor has deteriorated and the balance is still off.
  • Week 4 – 3/10 – Flavor has deteriorated further. Alcohol flavor is starting to take a prominent feature.

Retired Line-up:

Pinot Evil Pinot Noir NV

  • Week 0 – 5/10 – Slightly imbalanced acidity, balanced alcohol, earthy nose, red fruit flavor, short finish, slight metallic undertaste.
  • Week 1 – 5/10 – Still as fresh as when it was opened. Similar earthiness, red fruits, short finish, slightly imbalanced acidity.
  • Week 2 – 5/10 – Still tasting pretty fresh. Still balanced. Flavor tastes on par with previous tastings.
  • Week 3 – 4/10 – Flavor is beginning to diminish, causing the alcohol flavor and metallic taste to come through more.
  • Week 4 – 4/10 – Holding steady from last week. Still a slightly off flavor, but it hasn’t diminished since.
  • Week 5 – 4/10 – Nose is a bit more harsh. Cherry flavor is strangely more prominent.
  • Average score: 4.5/10. Length of stay = 5 weeks. Final score is 5/10. I would completely recommend this wine as a stalwart backup for any occasion as well as a decent sipper on its on right.

Bota Box Shiraz California 2006

  • Week 0 – 3/10 – Imbalanced (high) acidity, imbalanced (high) alcohol, smooth texture, black fruits, very hot nose
  • Week 1 – 3/10 – Imbalanced acidity and alcohol, smooth texture, no loss in flavor, hot nose, maybe a bit more bitter finish
  • Week 2 – 3/10 – Still imbalanced, same texture, flavor, and nose. Holding its meager flavor well.
  • Week 3 – 3/10 – There’s something a little off on the flavor, but it’s not enough to drop the score. Still mostly the same.
  • Week 4 – 2/10 – Tastes very soft now, like the structure is beginning to deteriorate. Weak flavor, alcohol is strangely no longer prominent in the flavor
  • Week 5 – 2/10 – The flavor profile is very different. Very soft, very meek, hardly representative of the big fruit that preceded it.
  • Average score: 2.6/10. Length of stay = 5 weeks. Final score is 3/10. Had a pretty decent stay, though it came from humble beginnings. If nothing else, you’ve got over a month to drink it.

Black Box Chardonnay Monterey 2008

  • Week 0 – 4/10 – Imbalanced (high) acidity, balanced alcohol, briny, weak texture, slightly sour, fruit-forward, weak nose
  • Week 1 – 3/10 – Lost nothing on the nose, lost some flavor, still very imbalanced acidity, similar mouth feel, texture, increased sourness
  • Week 2 – 2/10 – Nose and flavor are starting to get musty, still overly acidic, beginning to taste flat, metallic, alcohol flavor still balanced
  • Week 3 – 1/10 – Nose and flavor lost distinguishing characteristics. Taste mostly of acid and alcohol. Flavor is officially wince-inducing. Consider this guy retired.
  • Average score: 2.5/10. Length of stay = 3 weeks. Final score is 2/10. Started off all right, but deteriorated too quickly to make it a contender for the best boxed wine.

Washington Hills Merlot NV

  • Week 0 – 3/10 – Imbalanced (high) alcohol, decent acidity, red fruit, blueberry, oaky flavors and nose, short finish.
  • Week 1 – 3/10 – Still hot on the tongue, balanced acidity, flavors are all holding true. Nose hasn’t changed.
  • Week 2 – 3/10 – Nose and flavor are still the same, mediocre but not any worse.
  • Week 3 – 2/10 – A slightly unusual, chemical flavor is starting to come forward. It’s really affecting the flavor.
  • Week 4 – 0/10 – Nose consists entirely of alcohol now. Flavor is unrecognizable. This guy is retired.
  • Average score: 2.2/10. Length of stay = 4 weeks. Final score is 1/10. Started poorly, and the wine was essentially undrinkable after 3 weeks. Not a good trait in a boxed wine.
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5 Responses to “The Search for the Best Boxed Wine: Week 8”

  1. Ben Simons Says:

    That really sounds like a winner. I always like to have some Sauv Blanc on hand during the summer, and it seems like this would be a fantastic option for sipping. Hard to beat that price.

    • wineaccguy Says:

      Absolutely. I’m impressed yet again with this distributor’s offerings. They really went out of their way to make sure only above average wines at this price point got their packaging.

  2. Ruth Kalinka Designs» Blog Archive » Wine… in a box?!? Says:

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    [...] Reviewed by Josh Sweeney of Wine Explored here (6/10) [...]

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