Picnics can be anything you want them to be.
I have memories of my favorite picnic for one. Early in my Theatre career I lived in Richmond Virginia and was working as a Prop person for a summer theatre. My favorite place to prop shop? The Williamsburg Pottery. You could find all sorts of wonderful things here, eclectic, and unexpected, like a 6-foot standing suit of armor made of tin!
I would wander the aisles, with my prop list, finding all the little props needed for the shows, and then afterward, I would stop at the little shop out front. I would pick up a demi-baguette, some cheese, beef jerky, some fruit, and a split of wine and sit at a picnic table out front and luxuriate in my picnic for one. Enjoying the breeze, and the voices of the people coming and going.
The Pottery began in 1938, just Jimmy Maloney and a kiln. The place grew and in the 80’s it covered 200 acres, had over 80,000 items, and was visited by about 3.5 million visitors annually. It was a bunch of shacks and warehouses. It was one of those “Roadside Attractions” that Neil Gaiman calls American Places of Power in “American Gods”.
Since then, it came under new ownership and has been gentrified a bit. I don’t know if it still holds the power of the original. I will hold fast to my memories of the place.
This month the #WinePW writers are looking at canned wines with Picnics. Terri at “My Full Life” leads us this month and you can read her invitation post here.
Cam over at Culinary Adventures by Camilla, will lead us in a Twitter discussion on Saturday, June 4th at 8 am Pacific time on Twitter. You can join the conversation by following and using the hashtag #WinePW.
If you scroll to the bottom of this post you will find links to my Colleagues’ articles on the subject.
I was lucky enough to have some #Samples sent my way by “Le Petite”. (Samples were sent to us as part of the wine media, no other compensation was received and all opinions remain our own).
There is an out-of-date connotation with “Canned” and “wine” being used together. We often tend to discriminate based on packaging. (Oh, man, there is so much to unpack in that sentence, but for now we are just going to talk about wine.)
When wine began to travel, it started in clay pots. Fragile, not really the right shape for shipping, pots evolved into barrels. These were stackable and worked to get from point A to point B via cart or ship. Then came glass bottles. Functional and pretty, these became the norm. Of course now we venture into a time where globalization means wines are traversing the globe at an increasing level and this travel needs fuel. Bottles are no light weight (although they are being made lighter), they are subject to breakage, and they are not very space efficient when packing them side by side.
We are in a time when sustainability is not just great PR, it is also essential to our planet’s health. So finding better ways to package and transport this elixir that we all love is important. Boxes, kegs, cans…these packaging methods all put us on a path to a lower carbon footprint. Cause let’s face it, I love and care for the planet, but I am not willing to sacrifice my enjoyment of amazing wines from around the globe.
Convenience and sustainability
Cans are convenient. You can toss them in a backpack, and they are decidedly lighter weight than a bottle of wine! The packaging is lighter for travel, packs more efficiently and the can protects the wine from sunlight and other contaminants. They also cool more quickly than bottles. Cans are also infinitely recyclable.
Le Petit Verre
Le Petit Verre comes from Origins Organic. This company, based in Miami, is the US importing arm for Domaine Bousquet.
The Bousquet family are from the South of France near Carcassonne and have 4 generations of winemaking history. In 1990 a vacation to Argentina stole their heart and this French family fell in love with the remote Gualtallary Valley.
Gualtallary is in the Mendoza region of central Argentina. These vineyards in the high altitude Uco Valley had originally been thought to be too steep and too cold for growing grapes.
The Gualtallary is diverse. Amanda Barnes in her South American Wine guide speaks of 5 sub-GIs: Gualtallary Río, Gualtallary La Vencedora, Gualtallary Albo, Gualtallary Monasterio, and Gualtallary Las Tunas, with the northern part of the region having the highest altitude. The Bousquet vineyards here sit at up to 5,250 feet.
Domaine Bousquet produces about 4 million liters of wine each year and ranks among the top 20 Argentine wineries for export.
They are also a leader in Organic wine.
Organic…that seems to acknowledge that they are thinking about the planet, well, and their bottom line. In the end, organic is better for the planet, thus sustaining your land, your future, and the future of your market, right?
So sustainable packaging, well that simply follows. Better for the planet, cheaper to ship, more accessible…what is not to love.
In addition to cans, Origins Organic packages wines in kegs, boxes, and cans.
So…how does a four-pack of canned wine compare with a bottle?
Each can is 250 ml. A bottle of wine is 750 ml. When Michael and I poured the wine, we easily got 2 glasses from a can. Of course if you are drinking it from the can, well, it goes down pretty easy, and you are likely to finish the can without thinking twice.
A 4 pack will set you back $11.99 or $3.50 for a single can. Just by straight volume, that makes a single can at $3.50 1/3 of a bottle, or at a 4 pack, you are getting a bottle and 1/3 of wine for $12 bucks.
These wines are meant to be quaffable. The packaging demands that they be enjoyed immediately, you don’t lay canned wines down to age, they have no way of aging as they have no cork to allow for oxygen exchange.
Michael and I poured these into glasses and enjoyed both. They are not wines you are going to sit and smell and watch for them to open up, but they are good wines and made from organic grapes from, a high-altitude vineyard in the foothills of the Andes!
Let me tell you a bit about each of the wines.
Le Petit Verre Bubbly Rosé 2021
This wine is 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Syrah, 10% Pinot Gris and 10% Viognier that are manually harvested from the vineyard in Alto Gualtallary that sits at 4,000 ft.
Soils here are sandy with gravel.
This wine was effervescent, with notes of tart red berries, strawberries with a bit of a stony note and bright acid.
Le Petit Verre Malbec 2021
100% Malbec, 14% abv 2021 vintage. Manual harvested same vineyards.
On the nose forest floor and mushroom, juicy black cherry, Blackberry, deep almost opaque with purple notes, magenta rim that is a little watery. On the palate I found blackberry and black cherry on the palate little extra tart, tannins there but light and a bit of an herbal greenness. Tannins hit my teeth and melt quickly. A slight bitterness, perhaps that is the greenness I mentioned.
Our backyard picnic
Red Grapes, rosemary Marcona almonds, strawberries, prosciutto, salami, gouda, triple crème brie, cucumbers, cauliflower dip, and a baguette.
We tossed a blanket down under our little olive tree (his name is Wilson because he is a Wilson Olive). I grabbed our two pillows from the couch inside and a tray with a small ice bucket for the wines and a vase of fresh flowers (lavender and lantana from the yard).
We spent an all too enjoyable evening, enjoying each other’s company and conversation, relaxing in our own backyard. It was a much-needed getaway that we didn’t have to go far to enjoy. Loki even had the opportunity to inspect the picnic spread.
So should you pick up canned wines?
I would encourage you to not stick your nose in the air at canned wines. Do realize that these will not be wines that are expected to age, but not everything is meant to be age-worthy anyway!
We are finding more and more wineries experimenting with sustainable packaging. I mean Tablas Creek released their Patelin de Tablas rose in a box earlier this year and it sold out quickly! As consumers, we want more sustainable packaging, and if it comes from a name we trust, it will start to become the norm.
A few years ago we had a canned wine from Quady North, a small winery in Southern Oregon. Herb Quady wanted to bring wine to the people and getting it into cans does that! Did it save him money? No. Sadly getting a truck in to can your wines can be pricey, but…hopefully, canned wines will start to become more normal and prices will drop so that the little guys, trying to do the right thing for the people and the planet, can start getting quality canned wines out into the market place.
Keep your eyes open! Try new canned wines when you see them! Oh, and stop back by and tell us about them!
More on Canned Wines for Picnics from the crew at #WinePW
Have a look at the canned wines my Colleagues’ found! Don’t forget to join us Saturday, June 11th on Twitter at 8 am PST or 11 am EST. Just use and follow the hashtag #WinePW!
- A Portable Orange Chardonnay Seltzer Perfect for a Picnic by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Canned Bubbles and Hot Dogs – A Taste of Summer by Avvinare
- Summer Sippers: Decoy In a Can in the Sierra by Wine Predator…Gwendolyn Alley
- Pro-Tip for the Chief Picnic Operator – Don’t Forget the Canned Wines by Grape Experiences
- (Easily) Portable Wine for Summer Picnicking by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Picnicking with Le Petit Verre Canned Bubbly Rosé by Our Good Life
- Yes, ‘She Can’ picnic with McBride Sisters canned Rosé by My Full Wine Glass
More on canned wines from Crushed Grape Chronicles
More on wines of Argentina from Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Getting Kind of Wild with Some Simple Backyard Grilling
- Unexpected Sparkling Wines from around the world
- World Malbec Day and a grocery store Malbec
- Tasting blind – globetrotting at home
Want to know more about the history of the Williamsburg Pottery? I found a great article here.
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.