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Wine of the week: Yellow + Blue Chardonnay 2011

P66907110The Yellow + Blue boxed wines have long been among the Wine Curmudgeon’s favorites – cheap, well-made, and aimed at wine drinkers who want a quality product without any fuss.

Retailers have not always shared that enthusiasm. The wines come in a 1-liter juice box with plastic screwcap, which is terrific for consumers but problematic for retailers. Stores, after all, are built with shelves designed for 750-milliliter bottles. So the wines, if the retailer carries them at all (“Boxed wine? We don’t need no stinkin’ boxed wine”), get shunted to the back of the store, out of sight and out of mind.

That’s too bad. The Yellow + Blue rose, torrontes, and sauvignon blanc are top notch, and each has been in the $10 Hall of Fame at one time or another. The chardonnay ($10, purchased, 13.5%), though not quite as well done as the best Yellow + Blue wines, may be an even more impressive achievement.

That’s because the grapes come from Lodi in California, hardly the lodestone of chardonnay and a region that out tankerloads of flabby and almost sweet versions of the varietal. Yellow + Blue impresario Matt Cain, though, has made a wine with pleasant tropical fruit and a bit of a pithy finish that tastes like chardonnay. That’s not easy to do, given what he was working with in Lodi.

This is the kind of well-priced and professional wine that we need to see more of from California. Now all we have to do is to convince retailers it’s worth carrying.

Wine of the week: Yellow + Blue Torrontes 2011


Yellw + Blue TorrontesYellow + Blue makes some of the finest cheap wine in the world, and I’ve waxed poetic about almost every one of the company’s releases. The torrontes ($13 for a 1-liter box, purchased) is no exception.

So why does this review come with the availability caution? Because retailers still haven’t figured out a way to successfully sell wine, like Yellow + Blue, that comes in a 1-liter box. Most store shelves and racks are made to take standard-sized wine bottles, so anything that isn’t a standard-sized bottle gets stuffed in a corner. And if a product is stuffed in a corner, it won’t sell as well as a product that’s prominently displayed, regardless of quality. After all, when’s the last time you got on your hands and knees to look for wine?

Hence retailers are wary of carrying something that they know they’ll have trouble selling. Which means the Yellow + Blue wines are harder to find than they should be. Which is too bad, because they’re well worth the effort – hands and knees even, which is almost what I had to do for this one.

Torrontes is a white Argentine grape that has been made so badly for so long – sweet and sticky – that I’m surprised there’s still a market for it. The Yellow + Blue, though, shows just enough sweetness to be torrontes, but is in no way cloying. Look for peach fruit and even a tiny bit of lime zest as well as a very pleasant floral aroma and a peach pit finish.

Serve chilled as summer comes to an end, and pair it with the usual summer and spicy fare. Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2013 $10 Hall of Fame (since 1 liter is about one-third more than a standard bottle, making the price about $10 a bottle).

Wine of the week: Yellow + Blue Sauvignon Blanc 2009

The Wine Curmudgeon has long enjoyed the Yellow + Blue wines, which come in a 1-liter box (one-third more than a bottle) and offer tremendous value. So why haven't I written about the wines in almost two years? Blame it on the vagaries of the three-tier system, which has made the wines very difficult to find in Dallas (and I don't write about wines that I can't find here).

Since this post is about the wine and not the three-tier system, we'll skip the rant on the latter. Just know that the sauvignon blanc ($12, purchased) was well worth searching for. It's Chilean sauvignon blanc the way the Chileans used to make it, before they decided to raise prices and knock off New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Look for more lime than grapefruit, with a long mineral finish. This is a very well done wine, especially for the price, and an example of what Y+B can do — assuming it can find a way to get into stores. I drank this with a Cornish hen that had been split, marinated with olive oil and lemon juice, and broiled, and it was an excellent match.

One other thing: Matt Cain, who runs Y + B, would fuss if I did not mention that this wine is made with organic grapes and that the box is a Tetra Pak, which produces a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a wine bottle. Which are good things, of course, but wouldn't make much difference if Cain's company made lousy wine. Which it doesn't.

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