Category Archives: Red Grape Varieties

WINE REVIEW: Bota Box Merlot 2010 – Manteca, California

From the box: ‘The flavor is in the box. Our Merlot has rich aromas of blackberry and plum that perfectly complement full bodied flavors of black cherries, plums, currants, and a toasty oak finish. Try it with prime rib, steak, or your favorite pasta with a rich, meaty tomato sauce.’ 

I never thought I would actually try these wines in the box, new fangled thingies but curiosity got the best of me. I picked up a Bota Box Merlot 2010 and set up to give it a try. “Gee” I thought as I drove home “I really hope I at least can tolerate this wine because it is the equivalent of four 750 ML bottles of wine”.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of the wine box for awhile now. Yes, it doesn’t have a cork like I like it but it is more ecological in some ways. They use recycled paper and 100% post consumer fiber to make the packaging. It’s also bonded with corn starch instead of glue and utilizes soy-based inks. There’s also less waste because of the vacuumed sealed spout and container there’s no rush to have to finish a bottle of wine because it might go bad on you.

Now I did have a bit of reluctance to try these boxed wines for many reasons. First, there’s the snob factor. I will admit it. I can be a little bit of a wine snob sometimes and I traditionally like corks in my wine not nozzles. The boxed wine thing kind of reminded me of a college keg party. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have kegs of WINE!

Secondly, there was fear. I had never had this wine before and I worried that I would get stuck with a LOT of wine that I didn’t like. Easy enough to get rid of if you have lots of unknowning, wine drinking visitors but alas we do not so it would mean I would have to drink it all or throw away $17 worth of wine. Neither was appealing to me.

Thirdly, it’s SQUARE! Who drinks wine from a SQUARE bottle. Have I no standards? What will the neighbors think? Will I be ostracized from the wine drinking community for a crime such as this?

Well, I figured if I was going to try it now was as good a time as any. I did like the idea that I could have it in my refrigerator (yes, I live in Florida people and room temperature is just too hot most of the year to drink even red wine at) and have a glass of wine anytime I wanted without worrying about leaving a half drunk bottle of wine to go bad. Though recently I’ve taken to buying those little four packs of wine in order to have a glass on hand but you don’t get a lot of choices of brands that way either. It works though.

So I had my first glass of my Bota Boxed wine and was relieved to find that it was a decent wine. I am not saying it’s great like a nice Bordeaux but I think it has it’s place in society. It was fruity and had hints of plums and blackberries and had a nice smooth finish as well.

My overall impression is that it’s a great thing to have on hand for those times when you just want one or two glasses of wine without the worry of what to do with the other half of the bottle once you open it. It would also be good for those times when you have a bunch of people over for a party or get together and they aren’t too discerning over what they’re drinking. I don’t think you’d want to whip this box out when you have a real wine snob visiting or say royalty or famous people milling about. (What? You don’t have royalty and famous people visiting your house regularly? Hmmm…that’s interesting!)

Anyway, I would give this wine a rating of 84. It’s a nice wine for every day or when you don’t want to try something new and just want a glass of wine.

If you’ve tried any of these boxes of wine please tell me what you think. What brand did you try and what’s your opinion of it?


Spier 2009 Pinotage – Western Cape, South Africa

From the label: ‘Winemaking is an art. The signature wines of Spier, distinctive in their individuality and expression, are hallmarked by a strong sense of heritage, dating back to the planting of the first vineyards.’


Pinotage is the signature grape that is grown in South Africa. It’s a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (Cinsaut was known as Hermitage in South Africa thus the name Pinotage). I had never heard of this grape variety until a visit to British Columbia to see friends. Knowing that I am a red wine person particularly one who likes Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon he advised me to try this South African wine that he had.

When I tried it I found the smell to be earthy with dark berries, vanilla and plum essences. The taste was harsh at first but once I allowed it to breathe and aerate for about an hour it mellowed out and I tasted a sweet, vanilla, medium-bodied wine. It had a long finish.

I did have another glass of this wine the next day and it was even more enjoyable due to the extra time it was given to breathe no doubt.

Overall I liked this wine once it aerated a bit. My first taste was harsh. This wine would do well to be aerated at least for an hour before drinking and could probably do well to aerate longer than that in my opinion.

I give this wine a score of 84. Well worth the try if only to broaden your horizons on the different types of grapes out there in the wine world.

Little Roo Merlot – South Eastern Australia

McWilliam’s Hanwood Estate Merlot – South Eastern Australia – 2008

Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – Central Coast, CA

Columbia-Crest Two Vines 2008 – Washington State

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009 – Beaujolais, France

Fish Eye Merlot 2010 – South Eastern Australia

Double Dog Dare Cabernet Sauvignon – California

Edgewood Estates 2007 Tradition – Napa Valley, CA