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Week 2: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio

WEEK 2: I have to admit that this past Sunday I spent with an adorable granddaughter, so my experiment for tasting was given over to photographing this child of five.

Then, my week began to slip away, because I’m in the deep and narrow passageways of Dark & Delicious. This is a time when having any extra breath – save time for my clients – is not for the asking or taking of anyone external.

So, here it is Wednesday night, and I need to be ready for my weekly Thursday reporting on the Duca del Frassino boxed wine experiment.

By the way, look at the size of this box, against the usual four bottles.

I went to my fridge, grabbed the box and a glass, and poured myself this 2009 White wine: Garganega/Pinot Grigio.

I believe that the Garganega is dominating this week. The immediate nose was of pink bubble gum… the kind I loved to chew as a kid, and it’s still not an offensive aroma in my world. Swirling, this wine is now citrusy lemons and lavender. On the palate, this 2009 Duca del Frassino is dry (so, don’t let my bubble gum fool you into thinking “sweet”) and refreshing, with flavors of tart apples, smooth cucumbers, and lingering Myers lemons. The finish remains clean and luscious. All’s well in my Boxed Wine Land…

WEEK 1: I’m a huge proponent of boxed wine. I regularly have a box of white wine in my refrigerator for easy access. It’s a great space saver, and they allow me to buy a lot of wine at one time. I love having it and not having to store it elsewhere, or worrying about it becoming oxidized if we don’t enjoyed within a few days. Boxed wines are touted as having a six week shelf life, once tapped and put into action.

I was sent an Email and asked if I’d write about this new DUCA DEL FRASSINO brand from Italy. It’s the first ever Italian boxed wine. I suggested that a box be sent to me, and I’d conduct a six week experiment, similar to what Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher did. The one caveat was going to be that they had six boxes and went back and forth from box one, to box two, to box three, etc., until they had experienced the entire six weeks.  I don’t have that kind of refrigerator space, and the experiment has already been done by a couple of complete pros.

  1. I’m going to talk about what the Garganega/Pinot Grigio is tasting like.
  2. I want to also see if flavors shift from one week to the next.
  3. I also want to taste it six weeks later, and see if the wine’s tired at all, or oxidized.

You can come along for the ride.

Some of their differentiating notes about the wine:

Produced by Cantina di Soave, one of the most prestigious wineries in the Veneto region, Duca del Frassino is the first of its kind to emerge from one of the most important wine producing regions in the world. Two premium wines—Garganega/Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon/Corvina—offer high quality, fresh and easy-to-drink blends of noble indigenous varietals. The stylish 3-liter packaging in vibrant green and red respectively is contemporary, eco-friendly and convenient. The built-in spout and handle allows for easy pouring and carrying. Consumers will embrace Duca del Frassino with each box containing approximately 20 glasses of delicious Italian wine, lasting up to five weeks upon opening, and priced attractively at $19.99 –an unbeatable value.

Cantina di Soave, which has been producing premium wines since 1898, incorporates 110 years of winemaking experience with cutting-edge viticultural techniques.  “As the wine market continues to evolve, we recognized that the fastest growing category was missing its crown jewel—the world’s first Italian box wine,” said Enore Ceola, Managing Director of MW Imports, importer of Duca del Frassino (a Division of Mionetto USA, Inc.).  “These wines represent our mission— to showcase premium Italian wine from the Venezie that over-delivers on quality, taste and appeals to today’s discerning wine consumer.”  Duca del Frassino is poised to become the leader in the box wine category with the support of distributors, aggressive PR and Marketing in the U.S. to garner trade and consumer attention.

So, the history and the value is there. Let’s see what we find out about the flavors and the ability for this wine to be fun and approachable throughout the six week time frame.

WEEK 1: January 31, 2010 ~ Opened the box, and found that it’s cleverly packaged for ease of pouring from its tap. I did the nose and found a freshly sliced Pippen apple aroma, lemon/lime, a touch of petrol, and lilies of the valley. The hue has a slight pink tinge to it, given that Pinot Gris/Grigio is a pink grape. This is always a dead giveaway in a tasting when someone pours a PG for you, and asks you to identify the variety. You’re able to say Pinot Gris like a pro, and be pretty sure that that’s exactly what it is. (If you’ve had red wine in your glass, you’re on your own.) On the palate, this wine is very bright, fresh, and a bit tart. It’s the apple and citrus that has overall flavors, and the finish is a long, lingering experience. Very lovely, crisp and clean wine.

I’m going to really enjoy this experiment, I’ve decided. Back next Thursday!

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5 Responses to “Week 2: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio”

  1. Fabius says:

    Hi Jo,
    First let me say that maybe I’m not being objective here, as I’m a very small producer of natural wines, while Cantina di Soave is multi-national; and secondly I have virtually no experience in tasting and commenting on wine; having said that, what struck me about your post is that you’re commenting on a table wine as if it were a premium/quality wine! I mean Cantina di Soave churns out more than 30 Million bottles/year. What kind of aromas/tastes/sensations can you get from an industrially-chemically produced wine like that? Does it express the terroir of their 10,000 m2 automated factory where it is produced? I don’t get it.

  2. Jo says:

    Hi, Fabius,

    I completely understand where you’re coming from, and it’s a polar opposite from this wine company. You’re into micro managing each grape. I get your passion, and completely respect it.

    Would I love your wine? You bet I would, assuming your wine’s in good balance, and I’m quite sure it’s going to be given your tenacity on this issue. ;^)

    Yes, the wine is churned out in mass production, so many of the nuances that would be in your wine aren’t possible to be there in this one. The differences in hand picking, sorting, gravity flow to fermenting tanks or barrels, etc., makes for something very special and relatively expensive, because you shouldn’t be giving everything away, in order to compete.

    You live in a different wine world.

    Very funny on the flavors of their terroir, BTW. I’m hoping that I’m not going to pick that up, nor did I.

    This wine isn’t about terroir, really. It’s a simple wine that’s given me the flavors that I’ve picked up, so it’s got something going on.

    And… you don’t have to get it. Your fans are also not going to get it.

    Someone like me, can’t afford a bottle of your wine everyday. (BTW, what does your wine cost, because I can’t find a price anywhere on the Web… Is it bottled yet, and priced anywhere? I’m assuming that it will cost a bit, given all the hand maintenance that you’re doing.)

    For everyday drinking, with simple everyday foods, I go with what I can afford, and it’s not going to be what I bring out for my fiends on the weekends.

    I have a two wine mentality… Everyday drinking and weekend wines. This one is for everyday, yours would be for the weekend.

    And, as I noted in my comment last week… This is my one vice in life. I don’t eat fast food, I don’t buy prepared foods. I don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, and love my life with yoga.

    As my husband likes to say, that’s why there’s vanilla, and that’s why there’s chocolate. My my life, there are no absolutes, only explorations.

  3. Jo says:

    Fabius,

    I may have accidentally “unapproved” your comment. Sorry, I just corrected that.

    The reason I found it gone is because I went back to your site to see if I could find your pricing. I didn’t but I DID find something that might help you become more objective (as noted in your comment today about not being objective).

    On Twitpic, you talk about “NOT table wine today, but quality wine.”

    You also wrote: Menu del dia table wine. This one (anonymous) was not bad and could actually be drunk on its own. No kidding. The food was very good too. “Trattoria Club” c./Manuela malasaña, Madrid. Only €9.90!

  4. Fabius says:

    Hi Jo,
    Thanks your extensive reply to my rather pointless comment, now that I re-read it! I really must stop posting comments on the fly and take a day or two to calm down!!!

    Yes, different worlds, and as you say, (and as I upload photos to Twitpic), I step into the ‘industrial wine world’ almost every day when we go for our €10 ‘menu del día’. Like you, my budget is such that quality wines are for the weekends and/or special occasions!

    I’m glad your sense of humour let you see the funny side of the ‘terroir’ part of my comment, because re-reading it now, it doesn’t read that funny at all, even though it was meant to be!!!!

    You didn’t find any pricing for my wines, because we don’t actually have any pricing! We function as a memeber only co-op and don’t sell commercially at the moment. But we are in the process of forming a limited company and doing the paperwork/redtape so that by Nov/Dec this year we’ll be able to sell our wine commercially as well.

    I’d love to send you a bottle or two so you can try it, but I’m worried it won’t get to you. Two (2) months ago I sent 3 bottles to Randy Watson (TheWineWhore) so he could do a live tasting on his show, but they never got there, and no explanation from the post office!!!

  5. Jo says:

    Fabius,

    Three things:

    1) You’ve inspired me, because an objection is no more than a request for more information. We’ll either come to a point of see each others point, or we’d have to agree to disagree. I can live with either scenario.

    2) You’ve so inspired me, because I do understand your side, that over the weekend I wrote a blog about you and the points you’re making. I’ll send what I’ve written to you via Email, so you’re prepared. I had fun writing it.

    3) The US Post Office won’t deliver ANY wine… period. They confiscated it. In order for any wine to go through customs, it has to go through an importer with a license to accept wine. To get initial samples from Enoforum, my Portuguese client, I had to have Regency Wines, an importer in my neighborhood, to allow the samples to come through their company. What a rigmarole that was. It also seemed to take forever. In order for me to get any wine from you, I’d have to have an importers license (which I don’t yet have, but may just get one because of my Enoforum work), or I’d have to meet you somewhere, the next time I’m in Europe.

    So, no apology necessary. Your very passionate ideologies about purity are so noted, and no one can fault you for that. I admire that you’ve been able to find a way to live with such high standards for what you’re doing.

    Check your Email.

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