By Kimberly Noon
Special to The Dagger
The new wine bag in the box technology, now entering its 3rd established year in the US market paves the path for eco friendly packaging. Think of the green benefits. Half of the carbon footprint is excised, compared to glass bottled wine. Bag -in -box enclosures and lining keeps wine fresher, up to weeks after it is opened. Transportation costs are diminished with less fuel consumed. Time to convince the Cork Dorks. Step aside. Take a leap of faith into this new wine bag in box technology and check out the wines on this journey.
Five years ago, there were only a few bag in box choices. Think about it. Franzia, Almanden, Peter Vella and Carlo and Rossi. Now, look at the selections. A recent shopping trip to several local wine shops throughout Bel Air, left me speechless and more than overwhelmed by the choices.
This is what I discovered. I decided not to mention every store I visited, so as not to favor one wine shop ahead of another. Most of the boxed wine sections were segregated by varietal or country in their individual section. Most retailers confided in me that had remerchandised and reset shelving more than once to display and make more room for this life-style makeover. There just seemed to be an endless selection and variety of bag in box choices. Where to begin?
Let’s start in France. A country that once would have considered it faux-paux to produce a Cote-du-Rhones or a wine from Cote-du-Ventoux. How about a cute little wine from Vin De Pay, called Le Vin L’Uncle Charles, a 3L Bag in Box merlot wine so smartly packaged I just could not resist to purchase the wine for $19.99. I thought to myself, a bargain indeed, 4 bottles of wine, that’s 96 ounces of the good stuff. One store just happened to be sampling the new release of the boxed 3L format of wine from down under (Australia), the Lindemans, with 1 ounce sample cups providing quaffable sips of chardonnay, merlot and cabernet. I thought the wines hit the mark at the price point offered and one even made it home in my shopping cart to accompany my crab stuffed salmon I had purchased from Wegmans earlier that day.
Down in Baltimore County, heading towards Mt. Washington, a reliable source told me to visit Quarry Wine and Spirits. Inside the store, I was warmly greeted by Michael Fishman, the owner, since 2004. Michael took me on a personal tour and showed me things about wine I had never thought to ask before. Michael arranges his wines for foodies especially. So, in case you are trying to select a full bodied wine to savor with your steak tonight, Quarry WIne and Spirits simplifies the process. Fishman achieves this by organizing his wines according to body, fullness and varietal style. What is the most common question wine shoppers ask Michael? I am having steak for dinner tonight. What wine would you recommend? Fishman also went on to say the largest shift in shopping has come from the $15 wine consumer looking for a wine whose quality matches the price point. Fishman felt a need to connect with the new consumer crossing over from $15 bottles of wine to the premium bag in box selections. What better way to do this than to create and eventually brand a bag in box wine for the premium wine consumer. Fishman boldly donned his retail hat this year to craft his own bag in box cocept, a transition from the $15 bottle shopper.
Retailer Crafts New Bag In Box Concept
Fishman felt there was a real need to fill the “blindspot for the $15 wine drinker.” So, he crafted a new bag in box wine concept called Open Door Cellars. Fishman will launch Open Door Cellars this month and has even planned wine tastings in Maryland at select retail locations he shared with me. Upon its release this month, Open Door Cellars will be produced in 3 core varietal flavors, chardonnay, cabernet and merlot. Fishman selected these 3 consistent wines due to consumer interest in these core wine varietals. I was able to sample Open Door Cellars with Michael and absolutely savored the moment.
Open Door Cellars 3L Chardonnay was definitely a non-oaked burgundian style expressing clean fruit with a flinty tropical undertone. Definitely a wine that would suit my Friday night date nights or a great go to wine pic just to hang out with friends in general.
Open Door Cellars 3L Merlot expressed a lot of poise and character, I thought. There was just a nip of cocoa powder dusting of flavor on the front palate of the wine. According to Fishman, merlot is a varietal that has made much headway in the wine market and he wanted to craft a merlot that people could identify with and remember.
Open Door Cellars 3L Cabernet was the most full bodied expression of bag in box cabernet I had come to experience which I felt quaffed down easily with an extremely fruit forward definition of style and finished with more of a Burgundian finish.
When the release of Open Door Cellars is launched this month, the consumer will have no problem identifying the package. The box is beautifully designed and crafted with an artistic label and art design. It was apparent to me that Michael spent a lot of time developing his product and he hinted he consulted with a graphic design agency in California specializing in branding wine labels, Tinknell and Tinknell.
Fishman will also release Open Door Cellars in a 1.5 L boxed wine format, a greatly underutilized segment of the boxed wine movement, he shared with me. Later, Fishman would also like to develop a tetra pack format to fit alternative life-style demands. For bring your own (BYOB) type establishments, Fishman chimned, 1.5 litre boxes and tetrapacks would be ideal wines of choice.
Fishman intends to launch the mid-Atlantic market release of Open Door Cellars for a wine tasting in the Maryland market on March 16 for a wine tasting he set up in Abingdon earlier this year. The store Fishman selected for the first wine tasting of Open Door Cellars is Friendship Wine and Liquors in Abingdon on Friday, March 16 from 4 till 8 p.m. On March 24, Fishman will also launch a wine tasting at Quarry Wine and Spirits starting promptly at 5 p.m. He has planned a larger venue wine tasting for the annual spring block party in Federal Hill called Baltimore Federal Hill Spring Block party on Sunday April 29th from 11 a.m. till 7 p.m.
I am sure of one thing. I will definitely attend as many of the opening release wine tastings of Open Door Cellars as I can this year. Upon, the successful brand development of Open Door Cellars in Maryland, Fishman plans to brand Open Door Cellars in other mid-Atlantic states, specifically in Delaware and in Washington, D.C., then eventually take the brand to a national retail distribution level. Prestige Beverage Group, a well established mid-Atlantic wholesaler will blaze the trail for both retail and restaurant account placements in Delaware, Washingon, D.C. and Maryland. The website established for Open Door Cellars set up this month will be opendoorcellars.com.
What an ambitious project I pondered for an ambitious individual wearing many hats. Michael Fishman humbly refrained from describing himself. Instead, he sublimely shifted the conversation to focus on a vision he believes in. A vision of enhanced customer convenience served through his belief in the delivery of a new wine movement.
-Open Door Wine Cellars definitely opens the door to a new way of life and a better way to enjoy wine.