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THE LIFE FREE ARTICLE

Chateau Cardboard – is boxed wine making a comeback?

Australian brand Accolade produce boxed wines.

Bob Campbell MW
Sun, 19 Sep 2021

Australian brand Accolade produce boxed wines.

“What’s the state of boxed wine in New Zealand these days?” a friend asked me, pointing to an American critic’s published claim that the quality of boxed wine in the United States has come a long way since her college days. 

Boxed wine, also known in this country as “Bag in Box” or “Chateau Cardboard”, first made an appearance in New Zealand around 1973. I was an accountant at Montana Wines (now Pernod Ricard NZ) and recall crunching a few numbers to see whether this new invention was financially viable. I also recall testing the durability of a bladder of white wine by playing rugby with it. It passed the test. 

Sales started slowly but eventually rocketed as wine drinkers discovered the convenience of having a chilled glass of wine “on tap”. Most of all they liked the price. 

The first Bag-in-Box wines were a bit ropey. The “Dry White” wasn’t dry and even the “Dry Red” had obvious sweetness. Wine drinkers talk dry but drink sweet, the marketing people told us. A little sweetness helped mask any off-characters in the wine including oxidation, a fault that emerged, in the prototypes at least, a few weeks after the wine was opened. Our salesmen suffered from the equivalent of what electric-car owners know as “range anxiety” as they nervously eyed the “Best By” or “Packed On” dates to determine the health of their Bag-in-Box wines. 

I last sampled Bag-in-Box wines more than 20 years ago when I purchased and tasted every example available at that time. When I published the results, I advised readers to ignore the brands and simply buy the freshest wines as indicated by the “Packed On” or “Best Buy”. At that time, I made exhaustive inquiries and learned that wine bearing the “Best Buy” date was packed three months prior. 

I braved covid and slipped down to my local supermarket for some groceries and to do a bit of quick Bag in Box research. After 10 minutes of fruitless searching, I asked the liquor department manager if the store stocked wine in a box. He seemed slightly embarrassed but led me to a small section of low-profiled shelving that contained perhaps half a dozen products. He seemed to be apologising for a lack of stock, although I had trouble understanding him through his face mask. Perhaps Bag in Box had become a popular item during lockdown, like flour and toilet paper. 

The wines (all three litres) were Country Medium White ($24.98), Country Dry White ($24.98) and Chasseur Dry White ($27.99). I am fairly sure the same brands were available 20-30 years ago. Three litres is equivalent to four bottles, which gives the Country wine a bottle price of $6.25. The cheapest bottled wine I could find was Cleanskin 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($7.49). “Country” is an appropriate brand name for the Bag in Box, which reveals, “This wine is a blend of different wines from different regions and often different countries.” 

I suggest you take the advice I dished out 20 years ago – fresh is best. I found a Country Dry White Wine (three litres) on the Wine Central website for $24.99. It was good to see the Best Buy date in bold type, 22 August 2021 (nine days before).

Australia's Trentham Estate has just released a 1.5-litre “wine pouch” called “Three’s A Crowd”. What’s a wine pouch? It is a Bag in Box without the box but with a carrying handle. It boasts a choice of two wines, pinot grigio and pinot noir. 

According to the Trentham Estate website the pouch retails for AU$16 and is an environmentally friendly alternative to glass. The pouch holds the equivalent of two standard bottles of wine, but produces 80% less carbon emissions.

I recall being invited to a garden party at Government House in Auckland in the early 1980s and being offered Bag-in-Box wines, which was perfectly normal back in the day. They seem to have gone into near-terminal decline since. But could they make a comeback, at least in a small way, by becoming environmentally fashionable.

Bob’s Top Picks

Investment Wine

2019 Chard Farm Mason Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago, $79

This wine has more depth and finesse than any previous vintage I recall. Beautifully poised pinot noir with wonderful purity and subtle power. Cherry, wood-smoke and floral/violet characters. Approachable, but should develop well with bottle age.

Weekend Wines

Top White

2019 Leefield Station Chardonnay, Marlborough, $19.99

Rich, weighty, creamy-textured chardonnay with peach, grapefruit, hazelnut, ginger and spicy oak flavours. Crisp, dry wine with a backbone of vibrant acidity. Accessible, and offering good value at this price.

Top Red 

2020 Ka Tahi Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, $17

From a Gimblett Gravels vineyard. Moderately deep-tinted syrah with floral, white/black pepper, plum, dark-berry and anise/spice flavours. Robust, youthful red that offers excellent value at this price.

Read more from Bob at therealreview.com  

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Campbell MW
Wine reviewer
Widely regarded as New Zealand’s top wine expert, Bob Campbell is one of only 394 people worldwide to earn the Master of Wine qualification. Awarded an ONZM in 2019 for services to the wine industry, Bob is a sought-after judge at national and international wine awards. 
Latest articles
In the red – top ten pinot noirs for sipping and cellaring
Tasting notes on the 2021 New World Wine Awards winners
Chateau Cardboard – is boxed wine making a comeback?
True grit – the science behind the Gimblett Gravels winemaking success
Bordeaux to Burgundy – wines in the $1000-plus club
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Chateau Cardboard – is boxed wine making a comeback? | BusinessDesk
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Why you should consider BusinessDesk
THE LIFE FREE ARTICLE

Chateau Cardboard – is boxed wine making a comeback?

Australian brand Accolade produce boxed wines.

Bob Campbell MW
Sun, 19 Sep 2021

Australian brand Accolade produce boxed wines.

“What’s the state of boxed wine in New Zealand these days?” a friend asked me, pointing to an American critic’s published claim that the quality of boxed wine in the United States has come a long way since her college days. 

Boxed wine, also known in this country as “Bag in Box” or “Chateau Cardboard”, first made an appearance in New Zealand around 1973. I was an accountant at Montana Wines (now Pernod Ricard NZ) and recall crunching a few numbers to see whether this new invention was financially viable. I also recall testing the durability of a bladder of white wine by playing rugby with it. It passed the test. 

Sales started slowly but eventually rocketed as wine drinkers discovered the convenience of having a chilled glass of wine “on tap”. Most of all they liked the price. 

The first Bag-in-Box wines were a bit ropey. The “Dry White” wasn’t dry and even the “Dry Red” had obvious sweetness. Wine drinkers talk dry but drink sweet, the marketing people told us. A little sweetness helped mask any off-characters in the wine including oxidation, a fault that emerged, in the prototypes at least, a few weeks after the wine was opened. Our salesmen suffered from the equivalent of what electric-car owners know as “range anxiety” as they nervously eyed the “Best By” or “Packed On” dates to determine the health of their Bag-in-Box wines. 

I last sampled Bag-in-Box wines more than 20 years ago when I purchased and tasted every example available at that time. When I published the results, I advised readers to ignore the brands and simply buy the freshest wines as indicated by the “Packed On” or “Best Buy”. At that time, I made exhaustive inquiries and learned that wine bearing the “Best Buy” date was packed three months prior. 

I braved covid and slipped down to my local supermarket for some groceries and to do a bit of quick Bag in Box research. After 10 minutes of fruitless searching, I asked the liquor department manager if the store stocked wine in a box. He seemed slightly embarrassed but led me to a small section of low-profiled shelving that contained perhaps half a dozen products. He seemed to be apologising for a lack of stock, although I had trouble understanding him through his face mask. Perhaps Bag in Box had become a popular item during lockdown, like flour and toilet paper. 

The wines (all three litres) were Country Medium White ($24.98), Country Dry White ($24.98) and Chasseur Dry White ($27.99). I am fairly sure the same brands were available 20-30 years ago. Three litres is equivalent to four bottles, which gives the Country wine a bottle price of $6.25. The cheapest bottled wine I could find was Cleanskin 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($7.49). “Country” is an appropriate brand name for the Bag in Box, which reveals, “This wine is a blend of different wines from different regions and often different countries.” 

I suggest you take the advice I dished out 20 years ago – fresh is best. I found a Country Dry White Wine (three litres) on the Wine Central website for $24.99. It was good to see the Best Buy date in bold type, 22 August 2021 (nine days before).

Australia's Trentham Estate has just released a 1.5-litre “wine pouch” called “Three’s A Crowd”. What’s a wine pouch? It is a Bag in Box without the box but with a carrying handle. It boasts a choice of two wines, pinot grigio and pinot noir. 

According to the Trentham Estate website the pouch retails for AU$16 and is an environmentally friendly alternative to glass. The pouch holds the equivalent of two standard bottles of wine, but produces 80% less carbon emissions.

I recall being invited to a garden party at Government House in Auckland in the early 1980s and being offered Bag-in-Box wines, which was perfectly normal back in the day. They seem to have gone into near-terminal decline since. But could they make a comeback, at least in a small way, by becoming environmentally fashionable.

Bob’s Top Picks

Investment Wine

2019 Chard Farm Mason Vineyard Pinot Noir, Central Otago, $79

This wine has more depth and finesse than any previous vintage I recall. Beautifully poised pinot noir with wonderful purity and subtle power. Cherry, wood-smoke and floral/violet characters. Approachable, but should develop well with bottle age.

Weekend Wines

Top White

2019 Leefield Station Chardonnay, Marlborough, $19.99

Rich, weighty, creamy-textured chardonnay with peach, grapefruit, hazelnut, ginger and spicy oak flavours. Crisp, dry wine with a backbone of vibrant acidity. Accessible, and offering good value at this price.

Top Red 

2020 Ka Tahi Syrah, Hawke’s Bay, $17

From a Gimblett Gravels vineyard. Moderately deep-tinted syrah with floral, white/black pepper, plum, dark-berry and anise/spice flavours. Robust, youthful red that offers excellent value at this price.

Read more from Bob at therealreview.com  

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Campbell MW
Wine reviewer
Widely regarded as New Zealand’s top wine expert, Bob Campbell is one of only 394 people worldwide to earn the Master of Wine qualification. Awarded an ONZM in 2019 for services to the wine industry, Bob is a sought-after judge at national and international wine awards. 
Latest articles
In the red – top ten pinot noirs for sipping and cellaring
Tasting notes on the 2021 New World Wine Awards winners
Chateau Cardboard – is boxed wine making a comeback?
True grit – the science behind the Gimblett Gravels winemaking success
Bordeaux to Burgundy – wines in the $1000-plus club
Sponsored
Decarbonising infrastructure – navigating an abundance of policy and analysis

We have a rare opportunity to align significant public infrastructure investment with urgent climate change reform, but time is short and we all need to act.

Sponsored
Let's not lose sight of the wood for the trees

As much generation will need to be built in the next 14 years as has been built in the last 40+ years for Aotearoa to meet its commitment of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.