Happy 50th – Australia’s best cask (box) wines revealed

Go on – admit it.  At some point, we’ve all hugged the life out of a cheap box of goon and regretted it the next day.  Regardless of that hangover – the humble cask holds a proud place in our nation’s history, it has been the training wheels for many of us who’ve gone on to become wine lovers. Including me.

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The introduction of the cask wine saw an explosion of wine consumption in Australia

Tuesday 24 February 2015 will see this brilliant Aussie invention honoured with a 50th birthday party in the posh Sydney suburb of Vaucluse. The Wine Wankers have started the party early however, by tasting our way through 20 of the nation’s most premium cask wines.  We wanted to know; has the quality of cask wine improved, and if so – what is Australia’s best cask wine?  But before we get to the results – let’s get some background info out of the way, really quickly in bullet points!

  • Invented by Riverland winemaker, Tom Angove in 1965
  • Invention was finally patented in April 1965
  • Idea was inspired by from the flexible packaging of old goat skins that stored wine in biblical times
  • Tom was inspired to store wine in a plastic bag and store it in a box
  • The ‘airless flow’ of the cask is why the invention is genius; wine comes out, but no air goes in. So therefore the wine doesn’t become oxidised!
  • In 1973, before wine casks really took off, each Australian was only drinking 9.8 litres of wine per year. Wine had a “special occasion only” image. After ten years of cask presence, per capita consumption rose to 19.3 litres.
  • In 2015, the cask is still as popular as ever; one in every three glasses of wine drunk in Australia comes out of a cask
  • Contents stay fresh for 6 weeks after opening
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The cask that made history – happy 50th Angoves!

If you haven’t ventured into the cask section of your local bottle shop lately, you’re in for a treat. Cask producers have responded to the trend of consumers drinking less wine, but drinking better quality.  You’ll now find real varieties and actual vintages, and even popular regions such as McLaren Vale and Marlborough.  What’s more, packaging size has reduced.  You now find ‘magnum’ sized cask wines; 1.5 litre versions.

The verdict – Australia’s best cask wines

The Wine Wankers tasted each wine blind, by pegging the bladders to a Hills Hoist clothes line and re-enacting a game of Goon of Fortune!

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Goon of fortune – the wine tasting!

Top White

Yalumba 2014 Chardonnay. A$13 for 2 litres.  Score: 8/10

I’m not surprised a chardonnay took out top honours, Australia excels at terrific value chardonnay. Great balance with some lovely cool climate flavours of white nectarine, lemon and honeydew melon.  Value plus and very smart.

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Runner ups – whites

Ta_Ku Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Marlborough). A$24 for 1.5 litres.  Score 7.5/10

Not too bad considering this does herald from a cask, lovely crisp tropical fruit and gooseberry flavours matched with some grassy herbal characters.

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Yalumba 2014 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.  A$13 for 2 litres.  Score: 7.5/10

This is almost a perfect quaffing white wine blend, definitely a fridge staple! There’s plenty of interesting fresh and lively tropical fruit characters matched with fresh herbs.

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Debortoli Premium Verdelho.  A$10 for 2 litres.  Score: 7.5/10

There’s a party in my mouth!  This is what you should be buying if you’re having a pool party. It’s seriously fun.  Bags of fruity tropical flavours matched harmoniously with lemon and lime zest.  More!

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TOP REDS – EQUAL FIRST

Debortoli Premium Cabernet Merlot.  A$16.50 for 4 litres.  Score: 8.5/10

A sensational wine with amazing balance and delicious cabernet fruit flavour of casis and oak.  Brilliant value.

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Hardy’s The Chronicles Butcher’s Gold Shiraz 2012 (McLaren Vale) A$25 for 1.5 litres.  Score: 8.5/10

Terrific varietal flavours of plum and spice with lashings of toasty oak.

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And finally, because we are celebrating a 50th, we should be celebrating with bubbles.  Wine cask champagne to be exact.  Take it away Cheryl.

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43 comments

  1. I’m totally cracking up over the Soda Stream Champagne! I haven’t used mine in awhile so I guess I need to break it out and try that-hehe. And the term cask sounds so much classier than “box wine” like we call it here.

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  2. 50 years! Wow! Can’t believe that Debortoli and Yalumba are still at the top. I remember buying them and taking them away to camp at Coral Bay in NW Western Australia 30 odd years ago. Snorkelling and goon juice – only a good combination in that order! Nick

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  3. If I had money I would have a wine cellar and several reserve bottles to share on special occasions! Your posts always make me think before I purchase wine anymore. I like to go to World Market and other places where there is a variety of reasonable wines. Thanks for this post! Hey, did I ever ask you if you saw this older movie, “A Good Year,” with Russell Crowe? It is a sweet movie, one where I enjoyed the love story (and vineyards.)

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  4. Wow! Flash back to 1986 and my first box wine. But, that’s what college is for, right? Looks like you have way more selection that we do here! It’s been too many years since I’ve tried it to know how they rank anymore. Great post!

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  5. Happy birthday wine cask! Well done Aussies. A brilliant invention, for an international success.
    Believe it or not: ” In France, for instance, 40% of wine is sold in
    bag-in-box. In Scandinavia the 85% of bulk wine is sold in bag-in-box” according to the O.I.V. (in Revised Proposal for the Harmonized System 2017 Edition).

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