The Search for the Best Boxed Wine: Week 5

The Backstory:

There’s really not much to the story of this wine, the 2008 Vintner’s Red Blend Wine Cube, California. It’s a Target exclusive, out of a set of at least eight varieties, and according to their packaging is the only one to win a significant gold medal. Information about this vintage of the wine is nearly impossible to find. All I have is the packaging to go on: it’s a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, percentages unknown. That’s it.

The Results:

The appearance of the wine is more translucent than I would have expected, a deep red with a slight violet tint at the very edge. It appears to be rather thin.

The nose of the wine is primarily red-fruits, though it’s also very oaky, and there are distinct cherry and strawberry scents. At 13.5% alcohol, the nose is a bit hot, but it’s not terrible.

The mouth feel of the wine is rather thin and rather light-bodied. There’s not much structure to this wine.

The flavor of the wine is way overoaked… I’m getting a ton of vanilla and a rather high amount of sweetness, and it’s overwhelming almost all the meager red-fruit flavors. What I can detect is a black cherry and strawberry, and it’s got a rather high amount of alcohol flavor. Very short finish. It honestly tastes like weak vanilla extract.

For the Casual Drinker:

It’s not a typical red, though it’s a more typical cheap red. I cannot see that many people would be willing to drink down 3 liters of this stuff, seeing as how the flavor is so simple and so poorly represented. It must have been pretty bad to get this much oak. You could maybe make sangria with it, though, if you needed a cheap, quick fix for an outdoor party and only had a Target nearby.

The Conclusion:

Based on the fact that there’s an overwhelming vanilla presence, and the result of the winemaking is a too-sweet red wine, I’m tempted to give it a near-undrinkable rating. Since flavor is subjective, though, I’ll relent. After all, though the structure is weak, it’s not an overwhelmingly unpleasant wine. 3/10

Current Line-up:

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.

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

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.

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.

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

Retired Line-up:

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.
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