Boxed wine for wine snobs

This Boston-based wine company thinks it’s about time you get over your boxed-wine shame.

“Bottles of wine stay good for only two days after opening — and you’re actually paying more for the shipping and packaging than the wine inside the bottle,” says Marian Leitner-Waldman, CEO of premium boxed wine start-up Archer Roose. “[These are] fundamentally the dynamics our company seeks to change.”

Recently rated a “Best Buy” by Wine Enthusiast, Archer Roose offers three boxed wine varieties from Chile: a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Carmenere.Archer Roose

“We have a cult following around our Carmenere,” Leitner-Waldman explains. “It’s kind of an esoteric grape. You don’t expect that.”

Archer Roose partners with high-end wineries, producing wines that would normally retail for $20 a bottle, but is able to deliver them to the consumer for $7 a bottle — in a box or a keg. Each three-liter box (equivalent to four bottles of wine) has a suggested retail price of $29.99.

How?

Instead of bottling and packaging at the source in Chile, the company ships its three wine varieties in 24,000-liter flexitanks, which help cut its shipping costs by 70 percent. The wine is then shipped to New York Harbor and trucked upstate, where it is packaged and ready for distribution.

“Shipping in bulk and the packaging allows us to deliver such incredible savings to the consumer,” Leitner-Waldman tells CNBC.

Archer Roose wines also stay fresh up to six weeks after opening. This is because as the wine is dispensed, the bag inside the box collapses, limiting the wine’s contact with the air. The company claims its packaging is also environmentally friendly — generating 80 percent less landfill waste and a 60 percent smaller carbon footprint.

According to the National Association of American Wineries, the U.S. leads the world in wine consumption — with sales close to $35 billion each year. And it’s not just bottles: Nielsen reports wines in boxes and cartons of all sizes represent more than 8 percent of table wine store sales dollars today — and just under 20 percent of table wine volume.

Founded in 2014, Archer Roose is headquartered in Boston. Currently, its boxed wines are available for purchase in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia. The company intends to roll out to Georgia, South Carolina and Texas later this year.

It’s also getting ready to launch its first French wine — a rose from Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence – as well as a line of 375 ml cans carrying Sauvignon Blanc, rose and “Redsurrection.”

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Wine Spectator

Box Scores: 15 Top-Rated California Value Wines

Compelling quality and value are propelling the growth of boxed and canned wines as a younger generation of drinkers looks beyond the bottle
Alternative packaging like boxes, Tetra Paks and cans is booming in the wine industry.

Augustus Weed
Posted: December 15, 2016
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Time was, box wines were bypassed by bargain-hunting wine lovers. Times change. A new and improved breed of box wines is offering crowd-pleasing wines that are luring young wine lovers with a trifecta of good quality, great value and eco-friendly packaging.

“The younger generation isn’t stuck on having a cork,” says Gregg Lamer of Boxx Cellars, a California-based company that distributes box wines from around the world. The increasingly important and wine-enthusiastic Millennial market is more open to packaging alternatives like bag-in-box, Tetra Paks, aluminum cans and kegs, which all also happen to be more beach- pool- and park-friendly than glass bottles. “Let’s step up our tailgating program,” Lamer enthuses.

Value, tied to quality, is the key factor driving the recent surge in box-wine sales and production. “[Wine lovers] want a wine that will overdeliver for the price,” says Nick Banuelos, marketing director for Delicato Family Vineyards’ Bota Box. “Glass, corks, capsules and labels are expensive and can be a sizable cost increase versus our bag-in-a-box package.” A 3-liter box contains the equivalent of four 750ml bottles of wine, meaning a $20 box equates to $5 a bottle.

And producers are putting better quality in the box, as illustrated by recent Wine Spectator blind tastings of box wines from California. Of 44 bag-in-box and Tetra Pak wines reviewed along with their peers bottled in glass, 15 rated “very good,” or 85 to 89 points on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale. An additional 26 rated “good,” or 80 to 84 points. Quality was split down the middle among whites and reds, although vintage wines performed slightly better than non-vintage “boxings,” backed by California’s generally strong 2015 and 2014 vintages.


• Get Scores and Tasting Notes for Top-Rated Box Wines


Leading the way in California is Loft’s 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, and Gallo’s The Naked Grape Pinot Noir is a serious bargain for a varietal that typically commands higher prices. Large, established brands like Bota Box and Black Box are expanding their lineups, banking on the popularity of red blends, and also offering smaller containers such as 1.5-liter boxes and Tetra Paks, a compressed cardboard carton with a foil liner popular among juice and coconut water brands.

Bandit winemaker Joel Gott, one of the partners behind the Three Thieves wine company, was an early adopter of Tetra Pak technology. Like many box-wine producers, Gott aims for easygoing wines that are soft in texture, with gentle tannins in his reds and juicy whites. It shows in the bright and fragrant Bandit Pinot Grigio.

The upswing in quality can be partly credited to a greater emphasis on production standards. “We source from prestigious appellations and create on a smaller production scale, using sophisticated cool-temperature winemaking techniques,” says Loft winemaker Denise Worden. Most box wines carry the broad California appellation, typically including grapes from regions such as Lodi, Monterey and the Central Coast.

Smaller Boxes, Bigger Sales

Glass bottles remain the standard, but boxes and Tetra Paks are taking a bigger piece of the pie in the U.S. market. According to marketing group Nielsen, the value share of 3-liter boxes grew 94 percent over five years, from 1.7 percent in 2010 to 3.3 percent in 2015. That year the category increased 12.3 percent by volume, while in comparison, 750ml bottles only grew 2.8 percent. That steady growth comes as longtime box-wine buyers trade up in price and down in volume from bulk 5-liter boxes to 3-liter containers, with higher quality wine inside.

“There is no doubt that there is greater consumer acceptance of boxed wine,” says Bota Box’s Banuelos. The brand grew 28 percent in 2015, to the equivalent of 4 million 9-liter cases, according to Wine Spectatorsister publication Market Watch. Banuelos says that Millennials—mainly the older portion of the generation—make up the majority of new buyers and now account for 25 to 30 percent of Bota Box’s customers; that number continues to grow.

Millennials are also the key demographic behind the explosion of wine in aluminum cans, which outpaced both 3-liter boxes and Tetra Paks in growth in 2015 by a wide margin, with 60 percent growth by value and 129 percent growth by volume.

How does wine in a can stack up? Our editors tasted nine canned wines from California to find out. Quality was hit or miss, with six of the wines rating from good to very good. The top wine, the Alloy Wine Works Pinot Noir Central Coast 2014, packed with vibrant berry, floral and savory flavors, shows the potential of this growing segment as an everyday value.

“We make [canned wine] the same way we would a bottled wine,” says Andrew Jones of Alloy Wine Works in Paso Robles, who eschews oak in his Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to emphasize the fruit flavors. He is testing the limits of this nascent category by aging some of his wines, arguing that cans protect against light and oxygen better than glass bottles and certainly more than boxes with semi-permeable bags that let in a small amount of air over time and limit their shelf life to about a year to 18 months.

As the alternative-packaging category grows, consumers may see more box and can wines appearing at venues and on restaurant wine lists: Burger chain Red Robin sells The Naked Grape by the glass for $4.50. But many consumers and industry professionals still view the category with skepticism. “Most people are waiting on the sideline to see what’s going to happen,” says Boxx Cellars’ Lamer. He believes that if more producers decide to bottle their wine in boxes it will help push the category into the mainstream. “If you put the right wine in the box, [it] will sell.”

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Truly Tasty Sangiovese

Boxx Cellars Sangiovese – Truly Tasty

Boxx Cellars Sangiovese - Truly Tasty The Boxx Cellars Sangiovese, low production wine from the Sangiovese specialists at Vino Noceto.

 

100% Sangiovese from Amador County, California.

This review is brought to you by Boxx Cellars selling the best of box wine. Reverse Wine Snob readers receive FREE SHIPPING with code RWS until 12/19/2016!

The Boxx Cellars Sangiovese sells for $47.99 for a 3 liter box which is equivalent to $12 a bottle. (The same wine sells for $19 per bottle at the winery.) Only 202 cases produced.

From Boxx Cellars:

Chianti-inspired Sangiovese displays hints of chocolate with a fruit forward cranberry-cherry character. Highly versatile with food. Get a 3 Liter box (that’s four bottles worth of wine!) Once open, the box lasts for 6 weeks!

13.9% Alcohol

Following up on last week’s post unveiling the box wine specialists over at Boxx Cellars, today we review of one of their premier wines and a great example of putting high quality, low production wine in a box to make it more affordable; i.e. the way it should be done. This is versus the usual strategy of so many of the big names who fill their boxes with low quality, mass produced swill.

The 2014 Boxx Cellars Sangiovese comes from the Sangiovese specialists at Vino Noceto Winery in Amador County, who have made making great Sangiovese their goal over the last 30 years. The wine opens with pretty classic Sangiovese aromas of red cherry and a little cranberry and spice along with a hint of chocolate. The well-balanced, medium-bodied wine tastes smooth and delicious with more sweet red cherry and cranberry along with plum and a little earthiness. It finishes long and dry with lots of tart fruit and some continuing spice. It’s great stuff and would make a fabulous daily drinker, highly recommended!

 

Looking for more great box wines? Find all of our recommendations, plus more info on this money saving format, here.

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Reverse Wine Snob

Reverse Wine Snob Presents Boxx Cellars

Reverse Wine Snob Presents Boxx Cellars
Boxx Cellars, celebrating (and selling) the best of box wine.

 

Here at Reverse Wine Snob, we’re huge fans of box wine. But as we lamented in our giant round-up of box wines, too many producers use this less expensive format to fill it with cheap, tasteless swill. With a lot of work; however, we were able to find a number of producers that bucked this trend and filled their boxes with truly tasty wine.

The problem that we subsequently heard from many readers was that the availability of these gems was not often very good. But what if there was a source for only the best boxed wines?

Today, in this special sponsored post, we’re happy to present that source to you – Boxx Cellars, including a limited-time free shipping deal for our readers!

First up, a quick review of the top 3 reasons we like box wine so much:

  • They are convenient – each box equals 4 bottles. Great for parties, traveling, picnics, you name it, a single box can go places bottles cannot and satisfy many more people.
  • They cost less. Boxes are cheaper, lighter, and reduce waste compared to bottles.
  • The wine stays fresh in the box for a year, 4-6 weeks once opened and there’s no possibility for cork taint.

Now onto the wine! Here are a few examples of boxes that we love that you can find on Boxx Cellars (and in some cases very few, if any, other places):

There’s the dynamite daily drinker, the Alain Jaume & Fils Grand Veneur Cotes du Rhone Reserve. See our review here. This is a highly recommended Cotes du Rhone that has become virtually impossible to find in a box since the time we reviewed it…Boxx Cellars has it!

Or how about the Maison Cubi Syrah Carignan from 120 year old vines? See our review here. Another box that is almost impossible to find, this was the first box wine to make our Top 10 List of the Best Red Wines Under $20, and at #3 no less! (Boxx Cellars also carries the excellent rosé from the same producer.)

 

White wine drinkers need to look no further than the Bulk Buy rated La Petite Frog Picpoul De Pinet. See our review here.

The founder, Gregg Lamer, is also sourcing low-production, boutique wines directly from the producers and putting them into the box. (Boxx Cellars even travels right to the winery to box the wines themselves!) We’ll be reviewing one of those wines next week, so stay tuned.

Beyond the wine itself, Boxx Cellars aims to be your one-stop shop for all things box, with accessories like the Boxxle to class up your countertop or the Vine and Dine Picnic Cooler and the Cubicool (which makes a great gift) for when you are on the go.

Reverse Wine Snob Presents Boxx Cellars

And last but not least, Boxx Cellars also has the solution for restaurants with a special tapping system for boxes, classing up (and saving money on) the wine-by-the-glass experience at the bar.

Reverse Wine Snob Presents Boxx Cellars

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Press Release

Boxed Wine Finds the Respect It Deserves!
Boxx Cellars is taking boxed wine to greater heights of quality, simplicity and fashion
Sacramento, CA (October 2016) – Wine in a box has been on low store shelves and hidden in restaurant kitchens for decades, never taken seriously for its appearance or quality — until now. Gregg Lamer, who has had a long career in the wine industry as a sommelier, wine buyer, educator and marketer, is about to change the bad rap by bringing class to the category under the auspices of his new company, Boxx Cellars.
By taking control of every phase of boxed or BIB (bag-in-box) wines, from sourcing, distribution, packaging, and dispensing to direct-to-consumer sales, Lamer is hands-on to assure a superior product at all levels.

Wine Sourcing
According to David Williams, wine writer for the UK’s The Guardian, “What’s stood in the way of the bag-in-box . . . is the quality of the stuff inside.” He explains that boxes have “become associated with cheap and cheerless wines.” Aided by his longtime connections, Lamer is sourcing limited-production premium wines from boutique producers spanning global wine regions. He’s building a portfolio of premium boxed wine selections, including whites, rosés and reds from California, Washington State, Italy, France, Spain, Chile and Argentina. In line with Boxx Cellars’ environmentally responsible philosophy, many of his wine sources practice sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming.

Boxing (Bottling)
Another aspect of Boxx Cellars’ quality control and servicing is helping boutique wineries dip their toes into the BIB world by bringing the boxing process to the winery whenever possible. Producing a small run of boxes can help a winery test the market before launching tens of thousands of boxes the way Goliath wine producers do.

The Right Thing to Do
As wine consumers reach for alternative packaging, including cans and kegs, demand for boxed wines will increase. A 3-liter box of wine is the equivalent of four 750ml bottles. Boxed wine uses 91 percent less packaging material and is 41 percent lighter than the equivalent amount of wine in glass bottle packaging. Less weight means lower shipping fuel costs, and the savings are passed along in lower costs to the end user. Boxed wine can save a typical restaurant up to 20 percent on its pouring cost by reducing waste. “Cans Crack Wine’s Glass Ceiling,” an article in the November 15, 2016, issue of Wine Spectator, reports that according to the Container Recycling Institute, glass bottles are recycled only 27.8 percent of the time, less than alternative types of packaging. The figures show that cutting down on material waste is a valuable aspect of boxed wine. However, because boxed wine’s plastic bladder is an oxygen-free container, the wine inside will last a year unopened. Once opened, it will stay fresh from four to six weeks. With normal consumption, that translates to zero spoilage of wine. The entire box package is recyclable.

“Tap”ing
When ordering wine by the glass, the cork-pulling ritual isn’t a factor. But the appearance of wine in a box still presents a problem at an upscale bar. So Boxx Cellars offers an array of wine dispensers like the Boxxle. This spring-loaded device is handsome and sleek and conveniently fits on a bar shelf for ready access. Wine towers for kegs can accommodate boxes, with a device attached to the tap or added to a beer cooler without compromising keg space. Boxes can fit on top of kegs.
Boxx Cellars is prepared to make boxed wines available and stylish beyond the restaurant trade, with handsome carrying cases, carafes, recyclable glassware and wine lifestyle items available online at www.boxxcellars.com. Creative packaging offered by Boxx Cellars makes it possible to take wine where glass bottles have heretofore been forbidden.

The Market
Lamer is finding the wine trade and the public eager for more dispensing options for top-quality wines. Nowadays, the ecologically responsible aspect is a must for most restaurateurs. Lamer says, “Not surprising is the fact that trade, from five-star-rated restaurants to pizza chains, has interest in better boxed wines.” He adds, “I’ve addressed the reasons why the category hasn’t grown in restaurants, and with my one-stop method of procuring a better product, I aim to grow the boxed wine category.”
Direct-to-market boxed wines are available at www.boxxcellars.com, and consumer-direct is an option through a club for Lamer’s specially selected assortments, also available on the website.

Gregg Lamer is a 25-year wine and food industry veteran, crossing all channels of wine and food, from hospitality to restaurants, retail, luxury marketing and systems development. He is a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers, a member of the Society of Wine Educators and a former board member of the American Institute of Food and Wine. When he was sommelier at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, managing 14 food and beverage outlets, his fine-dining restaurant earned the esteemed Best of Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator five years in a row. His wine and food pursuits continued, starting with his La Tache wine bar and bistro in Scottsdale and stints with the Robert Mondavi and Stag’s Leap wine cellars and with Domaine Carneros in education and hospitality. He earned Wine Enthusiast’s Award of Distinction for his Amador Vintage Market, a Sierra Foothills wine bar and gourmet market, in mid-2000s. He continues to use his entrepreneurial spirit to tap numerous channels in bringing fine wines to wine enthusiasts.

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