I almost never drink boxed wine. It's not an elitist position, it really has more to do with volume. The box in this review is three litres, or four standard 750 mL bottles. I'd much rather try four different bottles just for the experience of the different flavors. It's possible to purchase bottles up to 30 litres in size, but I've never bought anything bigger than a 1.5 L magnum.
I picked this up at Kirby Wines & Liquors for one peculiar reason. While chatting with manager Angela Moon one day, we were discussing odd wine regions. We pointed out some Austrian and Israeli selections, but I found myself itching for something more exotic. She said the Corbett Canyon Pinot Noir was from Macedonia. Surely not, I thought. American box wine? That's all inexpensive California plonk, right? She fetched a box and showed me the small type on the back.
Well I'll be damned.
Macedonia is a confusing topic. It's an ancient region of Greece, but here we're talking about the bordering nation that became independent in 1991 as Yugoslavia fell apart. The country uses the Cyrillic rather than Greek alphabet, so the native name is Македонија. There are also (at least) three different pronunciations:
Slavic-derived Macedonian: mack-a-DOH-nee-ah
Greek: mack-a-doh-NEE-ah (spelled Μακεδονία)
I was going to write a bit about my old philosophy professor who insisted on proper ancient Greek pronunciation for place names, but looking back over what I just typed I realize this emphasis on accent and consonants is just like Hermione needling Ron and Harry about wizard spells.
So how is it? Kind of buttery, light cherry, practically nonexistent tannins. Needs more acidity, more oomph, more character... It's frankly just manufactured and drinkable, but not memorable. But I've got to be honest: I wouldn't mind serving this at a big party full of people that aren't serious wine drinkers. It's a very mild and approachable red wine and while part of me wonders if it's really Pinot Noir, it's an easy drinking light red. Keep it chilled before drinking and after opening; even though the plastic bag keeps most of the air out, after a few days at room temperature it develops a harsher aroma and flavor.
I don't think I'll be buying this again, but I'm glad I tried it, and if someone asks me for a boxed wine recommendation at the $10 mark I'll probably suggest it. And you fellow wine geeks out there, racking up obscure grapes and regions with all the fervor of an adolescent stamp collector (hey, I still get excited about stamps), consider trying this wine to include Macedonia on your list. It's not bad, and I'm interested in seeing what else they have to offer.