• $17/1.5 liters
• Two Thumbs Up
• Abundant aromas of pear, peach, orange and green apples with no apparent oakiness. It has flavors of lemon-lime, orange zest, a ton of grapefruit and pleasant clove-like spices.
Birds chirping. The earthy smell of the forest. The gurgling of a mountain stream. There’s nothing like hiking, camping or just being in the Great Outdoors, unless, of course, you like to drink well. Then, unless you have a team of valets, you have two choices.
A.) Lugging a backbreaking amount of glass containers full of your favorite wines and lugging the somewhat-lighter-but-still-pretty-cumbersome containers out of the woods.
B.) Making your own wine on the trail.
While choice B may sound attractive to those rugged individualists out there, that’s not an option for most of us.
There is a middle ground, however, for tree-hugging wine lovers that lies somewhere between Mulberry Trail Wine and Château Pétrus.
Just about a decade ago, we began seeing the first wine-packaging innovations since the introduction of the cork 400 years ago. The advent of screwtop closures for wine bottles made going to the park or an outdoor concert a whole lot easier. While most people accept screwtop closures as a viable alternative to corks, it wasn’t always that way. I recall a well-known Atlanta restaurant that stopped selling its top-selling New Zealand sauvignon blanc when it became available only in a screwtop. That sounds a bit ridiculous now.
Around the same time we saw the first screwtop bottles, we also started seeing boxed wines with premium wines inside. These were received with the same amount of skepticism, confusion and mockery. To those in the know, boxed wines made a lot of sense. They were lighter and less expensive than bottled wines. They also provided fresh, non-vinegary wine for weeks after opening. Then as now, most people scorn the idea of a quality wine from a cardboard box, even though this category of wine has seen double digit sales increases for the past few years.
It’s not too hard to understand why boxed wines have a higher hurdle than screwtop bottles. Much, much lower quality boxed wines have existed for decades. And let’s just say these boxed wines have not been the best ambassadors. People simply lump the better boxed wines in with the awful 5-liter versions that remind me of dish water (my apologies to those who enjoy those old-school boxed wines, bless your hearts).
But what is a boxed wine, anyway? It really is just a bag of wine with a spigot crammed into a box. I’ve always wondered, do you really need the box and would that perhaps offer a different impression to non-believers?
Well, I wonder no more, Clif Family Winery has taken the bag out of the box with its Climber Pouch line of wines. They have put the equivalent of two 750 ml bottles of cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay in a durable bag. This makes it easy to throw into the cooler without taking up so much room. Or, you can attach it to your backpack with a carabiner, as the bags have a durable grommet for that very purpose.
If you can believe that a container has no control over the quality of the wine inside it, then you can embrace this pouch wine for what it was meant for: a practical, light-weight transportation device for your wine. Oh sure, there are environmental benefits we could talk about, but I’d rather focus on the places you can go and the things you can do sans glass.
You’ve just hiked the 5 1/2-mile trail along Panther Creek in North Georgia. You place your pouch of chardonnay in the cooling water underneath the impressive waterfall at the end of the trail. You spread out your blanket in a shady spot and set out all your yummy comestibles. You grab your wine and pour generous amounts into plastic cups for you and a friend. To your surprise your wine is quite cool thanks to the relatively thin walls of the pouch. As you take a bite of your sandwich of soppressata salami and fontina cheese wedged into crusty Italian bread and take long drink from you cup, you realize you’ve found your new favorite al fresco dining spot.