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

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 “Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio”

  1. Box wine is no doubt very convenient and won’t oxidize quite as fast as storing an open bottle in the fridge, but there are just too few options available in the premium sector. I’m not saying it’s crap wine or anything, but I think there are probably only 3-4 types of box wine that’s really considered fine wine. (the rest being plonk or jug stuff).

    I would love to see this number go up and for there to be all sorts of selections available. Perhaps some of the more famous wineries could offer a box. Mondavi in a box or something.

    Anyways, it should be interesting to see your comments after a week or so.


  2. Jo says:

    For everyday drinking, Thomas, I don’t really need a Mondavi wine with my quick pasta pomodoro… Quick food for myself calls for non-complex wines. And, I’m saying that after having worked for Mondavi.

    Numbers will go up as popularity grows… the ole supply and demand theory.

    Meanwhile, I’m just having a great time experimenting.

    I appreciate your comment.

  3. Fabius says:

    Irrespective of the quality of the wine inside (which here in Europe at any rate, is ‘table wine’ quality and lower), there’s also the fact that wine in a box is just plain ugly! Now a lot of people could care less about that, but I think that a lot do!!! Depends on the occasion too.
    I’ve no doubt that the ‘invisible hand’ will do its work and boxes will become popular (or not!).
    Personally, I can’t abide them even with a quick pasta. And I’m not sure how toxic/biogedradable that silver bag is.
    Enjoy your experiment! – I’m doing one too at the moment, about oxidisation of a sulfite-free organic wine!

  4. Jo says:

    Fabius, Thanks for taking the time to comment… And I agree that there are toxic wines placed in boxes. I had one once that a friend had in her refrigerator. After one glass, I woke up the next morning with a terrible anaphylaxis reaction.

    I could actually see my cheekbones when I opened my eye, because my face had swollen so much during the night. It took five days to have my normal face back, again. Jose Fonseca, winemaker from Enoforum wines – Portugal – told me that fish can be used to filter inexpensive wines to removed the worst flaws. I’m allergic to fish… It was horrible, to say the least, so I’m very careful with inexpensive wines.

    I also have learned that imported wines are less expensive for us in the US, because cost of living in other parts of the world for wine making is considerably less. This makes less expensive imports a bit more attractive to me right now. I used to think, “Made in America, paid in America,” until my American client stopped being so faithful. Then, a miracle happened… import brands became interested in my writing talent. This opened up my world to being more global, which in turn has had me learning a lot behind the scenes with my wine and spirits, global relationships.

    In all instances of wine and spirits, knowing and trusting one’s source is really important.

    I also remember my first experience with an organic wine being a horrible trip. It was so oxidized that I swore off organic for years, not realizing it was just the bottle, but I was young and inexperienced. That was also during my vegetarian days. Now, I’m in the, “it better be good for me, or it’s not going in my body days” since 1972.

    This wine was introduced to me by Cantina di Soave, considered one of the most prestigious wineries in the Veneto region, offering wine of high quality. That was a turn on.

    I avoid so much plastic from all other parts of my life, preparing only fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats (no fish – yikes), that I don’t mind that this wine is in this container. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink in any kind of excess, live simply, have enjoyed doing yoga since 1972… So, this, I imagine, is my vice… We’ve all got. That’s what makes us human, and gives us all a commonality.

    And the wine’s really refreshing. (I’ve sipped it a few more time since, and always say, “yum” to myself.)

    I love that we can all be so different. I love that you took time to express your passion. I love that you’re in Europe… I just left a piece of my heart in Portugal, and was impressed with the European sense of environment (most small, energy efficient cars, low flow toilets everywhere – in the city AND country, and your pace of life is delightful).

    Enjoy your experiment. It sounds like a great one!

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