Wine Reviews

Every day is Earth Day for these wines

Wineries are moving towards being earth friendly. Some have embraced organic farming, carbon neutrality, or alternate packaging.

These alternatives to glass bottles have higher wine to packaging weight ratios and lower gas emissions over the lifecycle of the product. You can also bring these wines where glass is shunned – onto a boat or the beach.

CalNaturale

CalNaturale came on the scene in 2009, releasing an organically grown California Cabernet Sauvignon packaged in a Tetra Pak.

Heather Pyle, winemaker for CalNaturale stated in the launch release “we are proud to be a pioneer and to also break the taste barrier associated with other organic and boxed wines.”

Tetra Paks, not commonly seen here in the US are easy to open and reclose. The CalNaturale wines are available in both 500 mL and 1 Liter sizes at the bargain prices of $6.99 and $12.99.

How has CalNaturale tried to overcome the stigma many Americans have with boxed wines? In June, I sat down with Andy Wicks, CalNaturale’s Director of Wine Sales and Marketing to learn about their strategy.

CalNaturale has been pouring their wines at locations such as New York Fashion Week, SWSX and have been featured on the Today show, in an attempt to get their message out.

“When people try it, they like it,” states Andy. He noted that in Scandinavia, 60% of the wines sold are boxed. Following up with more information, he told me that Tetra Pak has been growing steadily for the last three years.  “As more good wines are put in boxes, consumers will embrace them more.”

How about aging? According to Andy, the Cab started off a bit tannic and improved over time. He would expect the Cab to age at most for 2 years.

Earth friendly, but how do they taste?

I tried the following samples provided by CalNaturale: the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles and the 2009 Chardonnay from Mendocino.

Chardonnay is not my thing.  Ripe apples on the nose, the chardonnay was acidic and fairly typical of a low priced California Chard. The Cab Sauvignon was plummy and sweet. Not outstanding, but not undrinkable either.

Climber Pouch from Clif Family Winery & Farm

This wine comes in an Astropouch which holds the equivalent of two bottles of wine. Since it came with a carabineer, I had images of rock climbing with this hanging off my pack. Not that I rock climb, but if I did, I would want a wine that I could bring along!

The California Chardonnay (nonvintage) was sent to me as a sample by Clif Winery. As mentioned, chardonnay is not one of my preferred wines, but this one was fairly crisp, unoaked, and would be refreshing after a hike or bike ride.

Released on Earth Day (April 22, 2011) with a suggested price of $16.99, the fruit comes from Mendocino, Monterey and the Central Valley.

Clif Family recommends drinking the Climber Pouch wines within 6 months to ensure quality.  The design of the pouring spout is fantastic “like a keg of wine” as an astute friend noted. Clif also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon (nonvintage).

The future of wine packaging

Much like the often discussed cork/screwcap decision, wine packaging will be a hotspot for years to come and there will be multiple scientific (or not so scientific) studies proclaiming what the best package is for both the wine and the world.

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