Big House Unchained Naked Chardonnay 2009, CaliforniaBig House Unchained Naked Chardonnay 2009

Delicious!

This really amused us. We discovered a wine company that makes an unoaked Chardonnay for the bottle and also the box. The SAME wine, bottled and boxed! We know! Crazy, right? This is Wine Reviewer Nirvana.

So, then, in a side-by-side comparison of the same product, would the box-bladder taint the wine? Would the glass version somehow be more crisp and refreshing? Would purists know the difference? Does boxed wine have to be awful?* Does anyone really think that Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Organic is somehow healthier? Get real.

The shocker flew right out of the box: the wines did not taste just the same and -- whoa! -- we liked the boxed version better.

Now let's be clear: we also liked the bottled wine. But there was a little something at the back end, a slight bitterness. People often mention the "citrus notes" in this wine or that. This wine had citrus notes, but it was almost like a little pith was grated with the zest. Paired with this meal or that, you'd probably never notice.

It might even create a sensory balance, depending on the menu. We liked it just as it was. Just eensy bitterness. No biggy.

But the boxed wine? No bitterness at all. Just the refreshing wine with a waft of pleasant citrus, very nice. Very drinkable. Very friendly.

Complaints? Of course. Who would we be without a little complaint or two? The boxed version holds the equivalent of four bottles -- that's good. If one were to keep it in the fridge (which you can do because wine-in-bladders keeps fresher, longer) standing up, ready to twist the tap, one would probably have to adjust the shelves to accommodate the size. It's a tall box. We kept the box on its side in the ice box, and poured at the counter. Our counter, though, didn't allow for setting the box down and placing the glass under the tap.

So we hefted the box over the glass while opening the tap, which took some coordination. We're proud to announce that we managed without accident, and while that isn't a surprise to those who know Tom, those who know me might say, "Meg? Didn't spill? Get real."

There you have it -- bought online, it's $10 per bottle and $22 per box (that's four bottle's worth, remember), not including shipping. (Of course, after we ordered it online, we found this brand on the shelves in our local shop -- although not the unoaked Chardonnay label -- so it's available around-and-about. Keep a sharp eye.)

-- California

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