When I mention the words ‘cask wine’ to people, I usually get one of two reactions. The first, and most common, is a wrinkled nose in disgust; a look as if to say, “Cask Wine? Do they still make that horrid stuff?”
The second reaction I get is a slight smile, a knowing glint in the eye, perhaps a look of fond nostalgia. “Ah, I remember goon. Pegging a bag onto the Hills Hoist at Uni for a few rounds of Goon of Fortune…” Yes, we all remember those days of 4 litres of Stanley’s finest dry white, for about $10 (hence the wrinkled nose in disgust).
But what if I were to tell you that cask wine is no longer the realm of poor students or those just using it for their Bolognese? It’s no longer the playground of the mass-produced, big-brand, soulless wineries pumping out cheap swill. There are some brilliant and talented natural winemakers out there choosing to pack their delicious wines into various sizes of bag-in-a-box.
What are the advantages to buying cask wine over bottled wine?
Firstly, they’re great value! The value comes from the fact that cardboard and a plastic bladder are significantly cheaper than glass bottles to produce, and they’re also much lighter when considering freight costs and carbon footprint in shipping. These reduced overheads allow winemakers to package and ship their wines at a much lower cost which means more savings for you! And who doesn’t need a bargain right now?
A cask of wine should last longer than a bottle. This applies both volumetrically and over time once opened. As many of us are restricted to staying in at the moment, the fact that these wines will last a couple of weeks in the fridge (rather than the 3 or 4 days for a bottle), is a lifesaver. It means you can enjoy a glass or two each night, without having to keep heading to the shops. Given the current fluidity of the lockdown timeline, it makes sense to stock up on things that can last longer once opened.
Who is producing high quality wine in a cask?
To give you a snapshot of some of the wines being packaged in this way, we’ve focused on a few producers who are making some incredible bag-in-a-box wines.
The first is Carussin from the Piemonte region in the north of Italy. Bruna Ferro and her sons Matteo and Luca farm organically and produce minimal intervention wines of character and vibrancy. Of particular note is their Bianco, made from an obscure indigenous variety called Carica l’Assino. The wine is lightly aromatic, with apple and stone fruit character, and a savoury, saline edge to it, underpinned by stony minerality. In short, it’s a super-drinkable white that would pair well with antipasti or fresh seafood. It’s $80 for 3 Litres.
Carussin also produce a fantastic red-blend called Completo Rosso. It’s an easy-going blend of the typical Piedmont varieties – Barbera, Freisa, Dolcetto and Grignolino. It’s light to medium bodied, with bright red fruits and wonderful, floral aromatics. A great wine to have slightly chilled with a versatile range of meals. And only $73 for 3 Litres.
Closer to home, Jared Dixon of Jilly Wines in the New England area, is making what he calls “Bagnums.” 1.5 Litres of natural wine goodness. His ‘Miami Bags’ are a range of reds, whites and field blends and are all super-drinkable. The current white is a lightly skinsy Sauv Blanc – it’s fresh, vibrant and great drinking, and $47 for 1.5 Litres.
Where can you find quality cask wines?
Right here, at Annandale Cellars! We have a range of boutique and artisan producers now looking to serve up their juice in casks. So next time you’re in store or online, why not pick up one and try it for yourself?
Oh, we also have Stanley’s 4 Litre Dry White... Goon of Fortune anyone?