Okay: I once went totally Brando on this topic (the horror!) but my inner Kurtz and my inner snob and my inner reasonable-dude had a sit-down and everyone was forced to admit that Le Vin dans Le Can has come some distance from its terrifying origins. Reasons to look to can-wines are simple enough to enumerate. Portable. Not breakable. You won’t have that “Oh, shit, I thought you had the corkscrew!” moment at the beach (I think that’s prompted actual divorces, it is to be avoided). It’s as recyclable as glass (and more so than corks, which you have to go to a little trouble to recycle properly) and, important for those of us who like to mind our figures, or our livers: Portion control is included free of charge.
Of the Le Can wines I’ve tried recently, I’m going to go ahead and say that, almost across the board, I happened to prefer the rosés to either whites or reds, but that doesn’t mean you will. Note: I have a strong suspicion that red wine is tougher to appreciate in a can in the sense that your palate is fooled by perception of “can.” Why this affects reds more than whites I cannot tell you but I suspect if you handed someone the exact same wine in a can and in a glass, they’d believe they were drinking two different wines. I tried to free myself from this but I am not 100% sure I succeeded.) The deal is, non-plonk wine is now available in this format and it is supremely portable. Consider the following:
The Winebow Group just launched AMBLE + CHASE Rosé, a premium can wine sourced from sustainable growers in Provence, the spiritual homeland of pink wine. Fruit is sourced carefully from small, family-owned producers. This blend (40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Cinsault) is salmon-colored and quite complex with a soft floral nose, cherry, peach, raspberry and a little citrus on the palate (grapefruit?) and a salinity-forward finish.
The wine revolution will be global, and in aluminum. Archer Roose’s portfolio, available in cute lil’ 4-packs, includes a Rosé from Provence, a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s historic Maule Valley, a Chardonnay from the south of France, and a Carmenere from Colchagua Valley, with cans that boasts “splendory without snobbery.” Also: Female Entrepreneur Alert, for those who vote with their dollars: Marian Leitner is a co-founder of this crafty craft wine range, whose distribution is expanding quickly (and is, like everything except real news, available online). The Chardonnay is bony and mineral-forward (no butterbombs here), the Sauvignon Blanc is fruity with a tiny ghost of effervescence, the Carmenere a Chilean classicist and the rose is in the beautifully spare, liquid-summer style of Provence. Archer Roose is middle-man free, working with the same winemakers year after year and acting as their own importer to keep the quality-to-price ratio in check. It’s good stuff. I like the pink one best but as noted, I have had that reaction almost across the board this year.
These cans are beautiful on the outside and contain delicious wines blended by Ron Penner-Ash, co-founder of award-winning Penner-Ash winery in Oregon. A three-can pack is available for about $13 and is the equivalent of one 750ml bottle. There’s a red blend (it’s Oregon, so mostly Pinot Noir), a white (Riesling / Chardonnay) and a pink (Syrah and a touch of Pinot Gris). So, with these guys, I again liked the rosé best (that’s been the case with most of the can-wines I’ve tried this season, and it might be coincidence or just my palate or an emerging universal truth about which wines do well in Le Can format (but probably one of the first two). It’s ultra-crisp and quite juicy. The white is, for my personal taste, a little bit less dry than I love, but if you happen to like white wines that are just a touch off-dry, this is a perfectly good one. Riesling is a wine that tends to “feel” sweet even if it’s technically dry, and both it and Chardonnay have full-bodied personalities in most of their US expressions so it’s not a meek white. That’s definitely not a bad thing, I just like the pink better in this case. The red is utterly competent but did not knock my socks off. (It might knock yours off: Like I said, I have a weird feeling there was unconscious bias in play. Oregon is bursting with awesome Pinots and I don’t think this one is bad, I just didn’t dig it as much as its pink counterpart.)
Can canned wine be great? Tangent thinks so and that’s why the newly released canned 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is made from SIP-certified, 100% estate-grown grapes. Cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc is unusual, and if you are a person who believes you don’t like Sauv Blanc, reserve judgment until you’ve tried Tangent, where the very marine climate and unusual soil composition produce a bright, silky one with flavors of green apple, lime, grapefruit and lemon zest with strong and appealing minerality and lots of citrus aromatics. The rosé in their can-format portfolio is an exotic beauty too-it’s primarily made with white grapes (Albariño and Viognier) that are blended with Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah. The result is a bright, extremely tasty wine that gets racy Albariño acidity, Viognier peachiness, and roses, strawberries and a bit of melon from the other guys. Tangent is a high-quality, zero-pretentiousness winery and one of my favorites in California. I don’t think they’ve ever produced a wine that wasn’t approachable and tasty. A casual-event drag-and-drop.