Time for a return to The Octagon. Not sure how much crossover appeal there is between fans of wine and mixed martial arts, but it's what springs to mind whenever I encounter an Octavin package.
This contender from the Central Coast of California is the 2008 Monthaven Cabernet Sauvignon. $24/3L, 13.5% abv. Interesting mix of grapes here: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petite Sirah, 4% Carignan, 4% Tempranillo, 4% Petit Verdot, 3% Zinfandel, 2% Merlot and 1% Mourvèdre. Of course, with that 75% Cab Sav, it only has to be labeled with that, but it's nice knowing the full composition.
It's a pretty straightforward red wine with blackberry and raspberry aromas. Slightly jammy berry flavors continue, with medium tannins. Short finish, and much smoother than comparably priced bargain Cabernet Sauvignon.
Like with the other Octavin wines, this is a boxed product that is a good bit above what you normally think of as boxed wine, but is still ideally suited to parties. We have to remind ourselves that many people just want a glass of red or white, and not to sit and talk about it for an hour. I would also recommend this for cooking purposes--if you've got one of those old French recipes that calls for a lot of Bordeaux, consider using this. I'm thinking coq au vin, daube du jarret d'agneau, or sauce bordelaise, for instance.
This is the fourth Octavin wine that I've tried, and the only one I had a bit of trouble opening. On the front the cardboard is perforated. You punch through with your thumb, pull out the spigot, and put it back together neatly. Maybe this one wasn't perforated fully, or perhaps I was a little zealous after opening boxes all morning, but I instinctively grabbed a knife and sliced it open. And in doing so, I punctured the plastic bag inside.
I was able to take the box apart and get the bag resting safely inside a pitcher. I didn't spill much wine, but I was able to transfer 1.5L into a pair of empty bottles I had, and that left the bag empty enough that it was easy to pour as long as I pinched the hole I created. This is not a problem with the design, or boxed wines in general. Just a reminder for everyone that if you encounter resistance, don't use something sharp and pointy. Try something like a spoon if you need some more force but don't want to poke a hole in the bag.
Note: This wine was received as a sample.
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