Butternut is a brand from Napa- and Nashville-based BNA Wine Group, which — and I’m sure they would admit this — focuses on low-cost bulk wines packaged under a cute name. Butternut is also one of the pioneers in the burgeoning canned wine space, with four varieties available in familiar 12 oz. cans. The company also produces wines in standard bottles. Eight total wines are reviewed below — both bottles and cans — and while it’s easy to tell the difference in this roundup as all the canned versions are non-vintage, I’m specifically including bottle/can designations on each review for the purpose of clarity.
Note that with the odd exception of the Butternut rose wines, these are all California-designated wines, meaning they’re blended from sources all over the state.
And so, without further ado, let’s see how buttery these Butternut wines really are.
NV Butternut Chardonnay (can) – There’s virtually nothing in the way of oak on this pale wine, which initially sees a fresh apple and lemon-scented note that’s quite refreshing. As the wine warms up and air has its way with it, things take a turn for the worse, with an unfortunate, aggressively beefy character ultimately dominating the experience. C / $30 per four-pack
2016 Butternut Chardonnay California (bottle) – The vanilla, all but absent in the canned chardonnay, is strong with this one, drowning out what appears to be a lemon and grapefruit melange underneath. Hard to drink for more than a few sips. C- / $11 per 750ml bottle [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]
2016 Butternut Rose Central Coast (bottle) – Rose of tempranillo. There’s actually a nice acidity on this wine, balanced by a gentle floral character reminscent of potpourri. With a solid grip on the very dry finish, there’s almost none of the extreme sweetness here that one expects from the usual budget rose. Unarguably the most capable wine in this lineup. B / $11 per 750ml bottle
NV Butternut Rose Central Coast (can) – A heavy pork sausage note makes the nose problematic here, but if you can get past that there’s a nice little strawberry and vanilla cherry note that offers some level of intrigue. As with the bottled version, the finish is on the dry side, with some spice and floral notes evident. C- / $28 per four-pack
NV Butternut Sparkling Rose Central Coast (can) – This is clearly the same wine as the above, but with a little fizz applied to it. That’s not a bad move, as it cuts some of the meatier elements of the wine, though it doesn’t add much to the experience beyond a little buzziness on the tongue. Otherwise, the same tasting notes apply. C- / $28 per four-pack
2016 Butternut Pinot Noir California (bottle) – A green rendition of pinot, with a heavy notes of black olive and hemp dominating. A menthol character emerges in time as the finish unfolds… all of which is weird and largely unsatisfying. C- / $13 per 750ml bottle
NV Butternut Pinot Noir California (can) – Quite a different wine than the bottled, vintage-dated expression. Here an aggressive (suspiciously manufactured) blueberry note kicks things off, alongside notes of licorice, barrel char, and beef jerky. Also unsatisfying, but in a different way. C- / $28 per four-pack
2016 Butternut Cabernet Sauvignon California (bottle) – Again a strong note of licorice pervades everything, with barrel char and tree bark notes heavy throughout. There’s fruit in here somewhere, but plenty of tannin (powdered, I presume) tamps it into near oblivion. More stewed meat on the finish. D / $13 per 750ml bottle