Summer in a Can - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Summer in a Can

Last year’s canned wine-tasting at Wine & Spirits included 23 sparkling wines and spritzers; this year, we excluded spritzers, ciders and sangrias, and still ended up with close to 80 wines, just about equal numbers of sparkling, rosé, white and red. We tasted the wines blind, out of glasses rather than straight from the can.

The highs were pleasantly surprising. The lows, well… “Some of these wines just screamed out at us,” said Daniel Veit of Carbon Beach Club in Malibu, who wished for “a little bit more simplicity.” And W&S contributing editor Patrick J. Comiskey noted that many felt like “leftovers, afterthoughts or press fractions,” wines that made their way to can instead of the bulk market. Here are the ten that impressed our panel.

Tab Top Sparkling Wines

Finger Lakes Sparkling
Thomas Pastuszak blends Vinny from one-third grüner veltliner and two-thirds dry riesling, taking it through a long, slow, cold fermentation using yeasts he brought in from Austria. He uses the Charmat method to add sparkle to this luscious wine, round with lively lemon-lime-pith and dried-apricot flavors. It’s frothy, acid driven and tart. “I’m stunned at how good this is,” said Comiskey, a sentiment echoed by the rest of our panelists. $19/four 250-ml cans

2017 Arroyo Grande Valley Spark­ling Rosé
Ethan Lindquist works with syrah sourced from the Rancho Arroyo Grande vineyard for this Nomadica sparkling rosé, which offers fresh raspberry and cranberry compote scents, coupled with a creamy, bubbly texture that keeps the wine clean. Simply crushable, and in a beautiful can to boot. $22/four 250-ml cans

2017 Suisun Valley Pétillant Natu­rel Methodo Martonatti Malvasia Bianca
Faith Armstrong produces Onward’s delicious, spot-on pét-nat in a Brite Tank (often used in beer fermentation), allowing CO2 to vent while keeping enough in the tank to sustain the fizz. She then lets the fermentation continue in can. It’s tart, with grape-skin scents, and a beeline of acidity that frames the flavors. $12/375-ml can

Pintable Whites

Canned Oregon
Oregon Pinot Gris
Scents of barely ripe nectarine meet hints of marzipan and ginger in this shy Canned Oregon pinot gris. It tastes like biting into a frozen green grape and would be delicious while floating a river—or with banh mi on a picnic. $7/single 375-ml can

Right Now
California Alpine Stream White
Clean, straightforward and bright, this blend of pinot gris, viognier, sauvignon blanc and vermentino from Right Now is framed by white-flower and fresh-linen scents. It’s a great foil to summer outdoor cinema or long talks by a beach bonfire. $6/375-ml can

Best Canned Rosé Wines

Jam Cellars
California Candy Rosé
Heady and candy-coated in its scent (think Bazooka Joe and peach rings) this wine could tip into the realm of saccharine, but a line drive of acidity gives it cool directness. The Jam Cellars is refreshing and bright, a mouthful of strawberry-blossom and lemon-zest flavors. Drink it while planting tomatoes in the garden. $20/four 250-ml cans

Bridge Lane
North Fork Cabernet Franc Rosé
Another stand-out favorite. The scent of dried apricots and oyster shells drives this savory, bright Bridge Lane rosé; then it ends on a grippy finish. “Great for a picnic rather than poolside,” noted Danielle Françoise Fournier of LA’s Here’s Looking at You. Our panel agreed that the savory notes would pair well with pickled vegetables and charcuterie. $34/four 375-ml cans

2017 Redwood Valley Field Rosé
Faith Armstrong wanted an alternative to beer in a can for camping and outdoor excursions, so she started her canned-wine pro­jects—Onward and Farmstrong. She blends carignane and zinfandel from vineyards in northern Mendocino County for this cool, crunchy red-fruited rosé—a mouthful of cherry blossom that would be a delight on the top of a mountain after a hike. $9.50/375-ml can

Can Worthy Reds

2017 Mendocino County Coyote Rock Block Poor Ranch Vineyard Carbonic Carignan
Tart cherry and rhubarb, dark chocolate and dried fig drive the flavors in this chillable red. “Texturally the most compelling of the red wines we tasted,” said Veit. Fermented as whole clusters, this Sans is a pleasantly waxy and stemmy red to chill for salami. $15/375-ml can

Gotham Project
California Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine’s oak is present but well integrated into scents of mocha, chocolate and mole, with snappy stemmy notes wrapped in ripe, plush fruit. Varietally correct and vinous: The consensus of our panel was, “Hey! It’s cabernet, but in a can!” Serve the Gotham Project slightly chilled at backyard barbeques. $10/two 250-ml cans

This story was featured in W&S June 2019.

Karen started her career in wine as an enologist at Araujo in Napa Valley, having graduated with a BA in International Relations and French from UC Davis. She went on to handle education and sales support for Indie Wineries in California before joining the sommelier team at Spago for a year. For the past several years, she has been working with the publishing group behind the Somm Journal, part of the launch team for The Clever Root, where she served as Managing Editor for two years, then going freelance as a Senior Editor, to raise her daughter, who is now two years old. She also contributes to the Josephine Porter Institute’s newsletter on Applied Biodynamics. Karen has studied in Bordeaux and worked in the Rhône, led there by a glass of Domaine du Pegau, which sparked her interest in the Rhône. And it was a bottle of Diamond Creek’s Gravelly Meadow from the early 1990s that had shifted her view of Napa Valley—her family has been in the Valley for five generations, and once had a dairy farm on the land that became Lake Berryessa.

This story appears in the print issue of June 2019.
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