Exceptional Excellent Very Good
Wine producers settled a few centuries ago on the glass bottle as the best container for wine, yet they keep tinkering with other formats. Glass, after all, is heavy and expensive to produce and transport. As we try to reduce our carbon footprint in an environmentally conscious age, cans, kegs and boxes make sense.
The problem: We associate those other packages with inferior wines, and glass bottles with higher quality. Some wineries today try to market good-quality wines in three-liter boxes, but they still struggle with the consumer perception that boxed wine isn’t good wine.
The latest to try this is the importer M. Touton Selection, with three new wines from France that cost $30 per three-liter box, the equivalent of four bottles at $7.50. The bag inside the box is supposed to keep the wine fresh for several weeks. These boxes are fashioned of wood, resembling the crates that carry the top wines for your cellar. A little marketing still goes a long way.
The empty wood box (without its plastic insert) weighs about 1 pound 6 ounces. Four glass bottles, on average, weigh about four pounds.
Here are the three boxed selections from M. Touton, plus a biodynamic bottled red from France.
Côtes-du-Rhône, France, $17
This is vibrant in a way that’s hard to describe. It is energetic; it shows an electric quality on the palate that almost upstages the black-fruit flavors that say Rhône. It’s a wine to stock up on and enjoy over the next five years or so. Demeter-certified as biodynamic. Alcohol by volume 13.5 percent.
Distributed by Elite: Available in the District at Streets Market and Café, Yes! Organic Market (Connecticut Avenue NW); on the list at Blue 44, Cafe Deluxe (West End), E Street Bar, Logan Tavern, Nam-Viet Pho 79. Available in Maryland at Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, Wine Source in Baltimore; on the list at Mussel Bar and Praline in Bethesda, Republic in Takoma Park. Available in Virginia at Grand Cru in Arlington, Laurel Mills Store in Castleton, MOM’s Organic Market (Alexandria, Arlington), Total Wine & More (Springfield), Wine Styles (Montclair).
France, $30, 3-liter box
This is good, basic chardonnay, with tree-fruit flavors and nice acidity to keep the wine in balance. It was a favorite among several friends I tested it on. A glass of white? Keep this in your fridge. ABV: 14 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Capital City Wine & Spirits, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines. Widely distributed in Maryland. Available in Virginia at the Caboose Market & Cafe in Ashland, Libbie Market, Once Upon a Vine (MacArthur Avenue) and Union Market in Richmond.
Bordeaux, France, $30, 3-liter box
The 2015 vintage was great all around Europe, and this basic Bordeaux has good merlot and cabernet character. Try it with burgers, pizza, Peruvian chicken takeout or those kebabs from up the street. In other words, drink it with whatever you’re eating when you’re just eating. Of the three boxed wines from M. Touton, this was my favorite. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Best in Liquors, Wide World of Wines. Widely available in Maryland. Available in Virginia at Once Upon a Vine in Richmond (MacArthur Avenue).
Côtes-du-Rhône, France, $30, 3-liter box
When you need a glass of good red wine with dark red-fruit flavors and a hint of earth — or, well, just a good red wine — here’s a grenache-based blend from southern France that will fill the bill. It’s a good candidate for your house red this winter. ABV: 14.5 percent.
Distributed by M. Touton Selection: Available in the District at Best in Liquors, Capital City Wine & Spirits, Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits, Rodman’s, Wide World of Wines. Widely available in Maryland. Available in Virginia at the Caboose Market & Cafe in Ashland; Libbie Market, Once Upon a Vine (MacArthur Avenue) and Union Market in Richmond; the Wine Outlet in Vienna.
Availability information is based on distributor records. Wines might not be in stock at every listed store and might be sold at additional stores. Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.