VINEBOX - A SOMMELIER'S REVIEW

For those "just a glass" kind of nights.

I was admittedly intrigued when I learned about VINEBOX.  Contrary to popular opinion, we sommelier's don't drink all day. Well, not all of us anyway.  Sure we can throw it back every now and then, but the truth is (and this is my dirty little secret), I'm kind of a one glass Sally.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE wine.  But the majority of what I taste I spit out and when I do drink, it's generally just a glass, maybe two. 

But my obvious inclination to like this product came with equal trepidation.  As a wine professional it's my responsibility to look for flaws and suss out the good from the bad.  The idea that the wine came in screw top glass vials was troubling - how could anyone manage such a feat without jeopardizing the integrity of the wine?  Surely the wine would be oxidized, or at the very least, complete crap.  Still, I was curious, and when VINEBOX reached out to me asking if I would give a box a try, I said sure, but I'm not making any promises. 

Flash forward to the arrival of THE BOX.  I grabbed my camera, a few Zalto glasses, and with a positive outlook, mentally prepared for the worst.   

...I opened the box...the packaging was, gorgeous. Simple. Understated. and Jesus Christ, MODERN.  That's one thing in the wine world that genuinely irritates me. Our inability to evolve and keep up with the times is beyond my comprehension.  We are stale, stuck in the past, destined to fall behind while the cool kids drink some craft beer called "gose."

I DIGRESS.  The sleek black and white design hypnotized me, but I am a professional, seeking complete objectivity.  Let's drink some wine.

The contents:

1. Pouilly Fuisse (Chardonnay), Burgundy, France
2. Cru Beaujolais (Gamay), Regnie, France
3. Cotes du Rhone (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre), Southern Rhone, France

Solid choices. In the same position I might have done the same thing.  I chill the Chardonnay for 5 minutes in the freezer, remove, and cracckkkkk....

Into the glass it goes, I follow suit.  Swirl, sniff, swirl, sniff...baking spices, apple, mineral, hmmm. Smells good. Sip. Aerate (annoyingly out of habit). Pretty good.  One more sip to confirm.  That's... actually really delicious... How did they do that? It smells AND tastes like Pouilly Fuisse, a Chardonnay from Burgundy that offers value and quality in an otherwise expensive region.  Complete and utter shock.  The oak was integrated.  The fruit was ripe, not overblown.  Even expensive bottles can often reek of overripe apples and vanilla extract.  This was balanced, refined even.  No sign of oxidation or flaws.  I'm impressed, but alas, two more vials remain.

The Cru Beaujolais.  A brilliant choice for this program - Cru Beaujolais is made from 100% Gamay, a thinner skinned grape that would please a Pinot Noir loving palate.  Not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau (a bubblegum monstrosity released in late November, intended for early and immediate consumption), Cru Beaujolais is a more "serious" interpretation of the grape, made from specific cru's within the region of Beaujolais, each of which embody their respective attributes - in this case the cru = Regnie.  It's the not-so-secret favorite budget wine of the sommelier community - packed with complexity and acidity - you can typically find a good one for around $25/btl.  As I had hoped, this one was delicious and everything I love about Beaujolais.  Smoky yet floral, light bodied with great structure. Another winner.

Last but not least, the Cotes du Rhone.  Should be a little more full bodied than the Beaujolais, but lighter than a Cab.  Like the Beaujolais, the Cotes du Rhone was floral but much more playful and fruit forward than it's predecessor.  The fruit was ripe and juicy, an excellent introduction to an American wine loving palate to something from the old-world.  Though not quite my personal style, the wine was solid, free from flaws or oxidation, and certainly something I would feel more than comfortable serving guests - which is the real testament.

So what's the verdict? I LOVE this.  In addition to a fantastic selection of wines, there are countless reasons you should consider giving VINEBOX a try.  Whether you're looking to expand your palate or to cut back on wasted wine, at $29/month (or $25/month for a year!) VINEBOX is worth every penny.