Homecoming: Going with the Boxed Return

I opened up the site to my blog today (on a work and 4th of July holiday break), and much like the wines that sit near me every day, it has gathered dust. Like, lots of it. (But the benefit is that my wine has also grown in numbers, so there’s that…)

A friend recently asked me, upon looking at my rack (wine, that is), “You’re apartment is so clean, yet there is dust on your wine? I think it’s because you want it to look aged. Yes?”

It was a great question, actually, and brought me to quick attention—why haven’t I been drinking my collection? Am I a poser? Am I on the wagon? (Um, hardly). Without venturing into TMI territory, I realized might need to actually start to dust off that wine, this blog, and maybe a little bit of myself.

And as I searched for the elusive WordPress password, I heard Josh Ritter sing “Homecoming” and that felt like the right sentiment for today: ”I first tasted the universe on a night like this/A box of wine, and I’ll abide…”

So here I am. Abiding my drinking hobby from one of the two boxes of wines in my fridge. (Or maybe both. But I apparently have to tell you, since I’m going to mention both wines. And since I’m hanging solo during a hot, holiday weekend, am not yet prepared to dust off the other bottles).

Why a box? Many reasons. Convenience. It says fresher for longer (read: maybe three weeks vs. three days of opening a bottle). Boxed wines are meant to be consumed soon after “bagging,” –like within a year— because the bags allow oxygen to pass through which will ultimately make them less fresh over time. Please don’t buy box wines with the purpose of stockpiling—I won’t be coming to dinner if you are serving a vintage 2000 from cardboard. I may even defriend you on Facebook, but I digress.

The Wines:

The Bota Box Chardonnay is a little lackluster for the varietal in that it showcases neither oak nor mineral…but just is, and sometimes, that’s okay. It’s cold, tasty in a non-descript, unoffensive way with hints of the tropical fruits it boasts and goes with anything. This is a fine wine, and for $18/box (which is about 3 liters or 4 bottles of wine), you’d be fine serving to friends, the jersey shore crowd that’s currently packed around my apartment-complex pool sporting cans of beer, or yourself after a bikeride, run or long day on the sofa.

(The pool/party/people in the picture are why: 1. I don’t mind drinking in my apartment 2. Have box wine at the avail).

The Alverdi Pinot Grigio is a deviation from my normal boxed PG, but it still holds the flavor profile of the Pinot Grigio grape quite nicely. High acidity, crisp notes of green fruit and a hint of flowers, I’d say this is a win—in a bottle or a box. The added benefit is that this box runs around $22 for 3 liters.

If buying only one boxed wine to start out, I’d lean toward a Pinot Grigio (even if you can’t find this brand). I find it’s a little harder to mess up a more straight-forward varietal like a Pinot Grigio than the Chardonnay—where these wines can display high elegance and $$$ if you happen on the right one. (Translation: You are probably not going to find the best representation of Burgandy in a box. Just a guess on my part, but there’s more tasting to be done!!)

Both have won awards from Wine Enthusiast and for good reason—these are completely drinkable, affordable and won’t embarrass the posse or yourself if you pull this out to serve…or hide away from the crowds.  (Wines purchased at the Wine & Spirits store).

What/Why I’m drinking these: These wines pair with the HEAT that is 4th of July weekend in Philadelphia; exhausting bike rides and runs around the city, and a general disdain of shopping for cold bottles from the Wine & Spirits shop that has grown to great distances during “Construction Season” in the city. PLUS, I’m hanging solo (completely +0) for the weekend, and the boxed wine allows me flexibility of not finishing the 6 or so bottles cumulatively within. My goal is to still make the workout in the a.m. (And I’ve succeeded the past four days during this long weekend!)

(According the above description, it also pairs nicely with plans to go into the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection Program, but if you hit that stage of the game, spring for a nice bottle or two. See: Burgandy, White. You don’t have storage needs.)

 

The Gold Standard-Meursault, Les Vireuils, 2004

Like a symphony orchestra that gave me the chills with notes of lingering melancholia; or a poem I strain my ears to hear so that I might remember the words as I do old friends; or a sunset I dared not blink through in case I missed the next hue that would top what came before,  this Meursault (White Burgandy, Chardonnay) rivaled all great moments that have caused me to painfully concentrate on its moments of joy.

I know–that’s a lot of expectation to bestow upon a wine, but like all great and welcome surprises, I wasn’t prepared to be enamored.

The setting: I could wane about a terrible trip I had had leading up to this wine, but I prefer to recall the spectacular August night of Minnesota, with a well-cooked filet mignon and quiet company, this wine was a great point of punctuation to what rivals perfection.

The wine:  Meursault, Les Vireuils, 2004-Nicolas Patel hails from Nuit-Sant-Georges, the northern part of the Cote d’Or (“slope of gold”) in France’s Burgandy region, and as I already set the expectation earlier in this post, it was the perfect wine for the perfect night.

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Served chilled, but not overly cold, the wine was full-bodied, rich in texture and taste.  The wine was at first subdued butter, but surrendered to mineral tones that lingered on the pallet, and marked a delicate balance with it’s citrus and almond notes that came through the medium plus acidity.  While I could have had the wine on it’s own, it held its own in body against filet mignon (cooked in butter) and its acid and fruit flavors played well off of the steamed and season cabbage, of all things!

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The wine was a suspended note of gold wrapping that made me want to linger in the moment longer that what was possible.  Yet, as Robert Frost wrote of gold, it is the hardest hue to hold and ultimately, cannot stay.  But, the good news is the wine is still on the shelf, and will hopefully bring future good memories to bear.

The good (or bad?) bottom line: You can find this in Minnesota.  I found mine at Haskell’s, Maple Grove (Retail: $30-50, depending on sale).

4of5

 

 

 

 

 

 

You say White Burgandy, I say Chardonnay

As a former Press Secretary on Capitol Hill, I often found The Wall Street Journal as my go-to news source.  It had everything I needed to know to tell my boss about the latest in policy, financial news, or breaking events.  Now, I find that the lifestyle section (even sans millionaire status) is a must, and especially the reviews on wine.  How else would I know that Costco carries exceptional finds?  So in a recent article, “The New Master of Affordable White Burgandies,” I found inspiration to head to my local store and try one–or a few–out.

Before I get to the taste testing, I have to rewind a few weeks to the surprise birthday party of my girlfriend, Ellen.  Marcel’s, one of the best French restaurants in DC, was the backdrop and the prelude to the main course featured a crisp, slate-bright, green-fruited white wine that was so well-balanced and acidic, I neglected the red wine present throughout the remainder of dinner.  If diamonds have a liquid equivalent, this was it.  My friend informed me when I asked, “Oh, it’s a white Burgandy.”  Not Chablis. Not Chardonnay.  Simply, a white Burgandy.

As easily as she told me the kind, I thought the style would be as easily indicative of the region.  Therefore, all white Burgandies must be of the same quality.   The $24 reference in WSJ was my beacon of hope–the price didn’t seem unreasonable, and if that was the case, I was bound for Burgandy success.

I picked up a bottle of Macon La Roche Vineuse 2011, and as it poured into the glass, was slightly shocked at the light gold color, reminiscent of California Chardonnays.  The oaky, yellow-apple, and fuller-bodied taste made me take a double take at the label.  It had none of the crisp, refreshing mineral flavor I was looking for–only the flaccid oaky taste of a cheaper, off-brand Chardonnay.  The acid was not there, nor the finish.  This was not what I expected for the $22 mark.

Overall, this was a white Burgandy that disappointed and did not hold true to the region (or I should say my expectation of the region), but I think it hit the mark of what a Chardonnay can be.  Next time, I’ll do a little more research before diving in to this Zone 1 category wine.

White burgandy
1 out of 5