Boxed wine is a fantastic concept, but it’s something that I very rarely buy. That’s a shame, because bag-in-box packaging does offer and advantage or two over glass outside of sheer value, including the fact that the wine will last for a month once opened. But boxed wine’s biggest problem remains significant: The juice inside the box is usually not worth your attention.
If there were a producer that would do right by quality seekers, Sokol Blosser in Oregon’s Dundee Hills would be a great choice for the job. I was excited to learn that the producer of quality estate Pinot Noir and exceptional sparkling wines recently added two new products to its Evolution line, 2020 Oregon Chardonnay and 2020 Big Time Red, a blend. Let’s taste and see if these two boxes stand out.
2020 Sokol Blosser Evolution Oregon Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel with commercial yeast and aged on a small quantity of oak staves. I don’t notice the oak though; the nose is fruity and modest, offering whiffs of golden apple, wet stone, and lemon pith. The aromatics are clear and inviting but not as powerful as Sokol Blosser’s more elevated bottlings. The wine is light- to medium-bodied with pronounced acidity softened by just an inkling of sweetness. Overall, the wine is subtle and uncomplicated. What I like best about it is that it is not trying too hard to be something that it isn’t; no heavy oak-chip or overt malolactic influences here, just simple clean Chardonnay fruit. B / $28 per 1.5 liter box
2020 Sokol Blosser Evolution Big Time Red is a blend of Syrah, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and a bit of the Evolution Lucky No. 9 White — a practice which is rare but not unheard of, particularly with Rhone grapes. Thankfully the wine’s aromatics are as interesting as the blend: red fruit like grilled cherries with dried herbs and cracked pepper are delivered with more impact than the Chardonnay. This is exactly the kind of flavor that would work wonders paired with pizza or splashed in your pasta sauce. The wine holds up on the palate too. It’s not as crisp as the Chardonnay, but it’s a modicum drier and features well-textured tannin for such a young red. Personally I’d like to see a dash more acidity but I’m nit-picking here, this is very good considering its modest price. B+ / $21 per 1.5 liter box