September 20, 2009

Wines of Virtue – Environmentally Friendly Vino

By In Wine Notes

Does it really matter that a wine is bottled at the vineyard? Would it not be a huge environmental statement by the wine industry if all wine was shipped in bulk – thus saving transportation costs – and bottled in the country of sale?
Why is it that it is only the cheap stuff (bag in box, litre bottles of red ‘stuff’) appear on the bottom shelf that are bottled in the UK? Those delicious Howard Park wines from Western Australia would be considerably cheaper if someone in a Southampton trading estate syphoned them into UK bottles… and we would could all feel terribly smug at being so… well… virtuous.
How many people lift up those weighty premium bottles and consider the environmental impact; not only of transportation but the energy and resources used to make such heavy bottles? Is it all modern perception? Why do we need bottles at all when we could use the ‘sacks’ such as those developed by Arniston Bay?
I ask as Waitrose has slipped on to their shelves four wines under the Virtue label.

“Wine shipped in bulk to save bottle transportation and then packed in lightweight glass. Quality-inspected at every stage.”

The glass is made from at least 60% recycled material. (Can you not make wine bottles from 100% recycled glass??) The wines, two from Chile, one from Australia and two from California, retail at £3.99 each. Not exactly a premium wine price point.

At least the Chilean duo (Sauvignon Blanc/Chardonnay and a Merlot/Cabernet blends) are from a specific vintage – 2008. The California two are non-vintage.

Wine Tasting Note: Virtue of Chile Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Central Valley, Chile.

Price: £3.99 Waitrose [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Mellow, medium-bodied, a little tannic burst giving structure. Black fruits, a touch of coffee and licorice giving some decent addition to the plummy base. An easy-drinking, ripe red for drinking on its own although I can see it accompanying this evenings Lime and Chilli Beef with a-plomb. Alcohol 13%.
Scribblings Rating – 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Wine Tasting Note: Virtue of California White, NV, California.

Stockist: Waitrose Price: £3.99 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A solid, rounded, smooth, easy-drinking white wine. No great pretensions but a nice little crispness on the finish enlivening the gentle, pleasant fruity palate. Chardonnay? Chenin Blanc? Alcohol 11.5%. Of several wines tried this worked as well as any other with an Autumn Salad of Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnuts.
Scribblings Rating – 86/100 [3.25 out of 5]

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Top :: Comments

  1. Jamie September 22, 2009

    I’m a big fan of bottles – cans, boxes and plastic just do not have the same appeal. As you say though – there is absolutely no reason why this wine couldn’t be shipped in bulk and bottle in the country of sale using 100% recycled glass bottle. For producers, this probably just falls into the realms of being “too difficult”

  2. chantili September 23, 2009

    I stay away from reds for the most part. The tannins give me terrible migraines. Although, I LOVE a good port. I really like the red wine; they are very refreshing and good.

  3. Dylan September 23, 2009

    It’s likely a perception issue. Perhaps 60% gives the impression that they’re environmentally-conscious and aware, but 100% gives off the impression that it’s cheap? Personally, I don’t feel that way about 100% recycled items, but it is a possibility.

  4. wine_scribbler September 23, 2009

    That’s the word I was hunting for Dylan – perception.
    I have a feeling that most will feel content that they are recycling the wine bottles regardless of the original weight..

  5. Spiltwine September 24, 2009

    This could work with less-expensive wine but how much more agitation would the wine get if shipped in bulk vs bottle, that would be interesting to know.
    Also would the producers bottle it over here and let the wine settle to avoid bottle shock?
    I’ll look out for these wines and interested to try them.

  6. wine club November 22, 2009

    I doubt the average consumer is even going to be aware of the possible repercussions of less dense glass, so unless a winery is dealing in the $50+ market….it makes a ton of sense especially given some of the marketing angles that would be presented.


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