Skip to main content
waters on wine

Cantina Goccia from Umbria was the first winery to use the Frugalpac design, the Frugal Bottle, in June, 2020.Handout

Glass bottles and their transportation are the two biggest contributors to wine’s carbon footprint. As a result, we’re seeing an increase in alternate formats including cans, pouches and bag-in-box. Recently, the LCBO released a red wine from Umbria that comes in lightweight cardboard.

Shaped like a wine bottle, its packaging is made from recycled paperboard and a food-grade liner to hold the wine. Its producer, Frugalpac, claims it is five times lighter than a glass bottle.

Alcohol brands started to experiment with paper bottles in 2015 amid increasing concerns about sustainability. Absolut, Carlsberg and others have announced plans to develop pulp-based bottles to curb their use of glass or plastics.

Cantina Goccia from Umbria was the first winery to use the Frugalpac design, the Frugal Bottle, in June, 2020. The family operation’s 3Q red wine is the first wine packaged in the design to be sold at the LCBO. The bottles come with a shelf life of 12 months, which is the same time frame given to bag-in-box units.

After being drained, the Frugal Bottle has a button on its shoulder to allow the package to split open. The cardboard cover can be put into recycling. The laminated pouch with its black plastic spout needs to go into the trash bin in most countries.

The 3Q red wine is one of nine suggestions for bottles to look for in the coming weeks. The selection includes a range of crowd-pleasing red and white wines with harmony and balance that makes them truly appetizing.

3Q Umbria Rosso 2018 (Italy), $16.95

Rating:88 /100

With a “bottle” made from recycled paper with a food grade liner, this sangiovese blend from Umbria stands out on the shelf. The red wine inside the innovative packaging, however, is sure to please traditionalists. A classic dry and fruity red, this displays the dark fruit flavours typically associated with the sangiovese grape. Drink now. Available in Ontario.

Anselmi San Vincenzo Estate 2020 (Italy), $16.95

Rating:90 /100

A blend of garganega, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, San Vincenzo Estate is a consistently enjoyable white wine with a core of peach and citrus flavours with honeyed and herbal notes. The style is attractive thanks to the wine’s appealing fragrance, depth of flavour and refreshing finish. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta, $16.90 in Quebec.

Bachelder Bator P.T.L.G. Gamay Noir/Pinot Noir 2020 (Canada), $29.95

Rating:92 /100

In Burgundy, blends of pinot noir and gamay noir are labelled as passetoutgrains (loosely meaning “throw it all in”). They are often charming, fruity and affordably priced. This example comes from Niagara winemaker Thomas Bachelder, who has blended gamay and pinot grown at the Bator vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Made as a small batch of 75 cases, this fresh and lively red benefits from contributions from both grapes. Its enjoyably juicy and spicy character shows harmony and complexity. Drink now to 2026. Available direct, bachelderniagara.com.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (New Zealand), $36.95

Rating:92 /100

Back in the 1980s, Cloudy Bay helped sauvignon blanc from New Zealand become a global superstar. The current 2021 vintage suggests the vibrant white wine is a classic for a reason. Made in an expressive and enjoyable style, this is bright and dry, with pineapple, peach and grapefruit flavours accented by herbal notes. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, $36.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $42.49 in Saskatchewan, $36.75 (2020 vintage), $42.39 in Nova Scotia, $42.69 in Prince Edward Island.

Gemtree Vineyards Uncut Shiraz 2019 (Australia), $29.99

Rating:90 /100

The Uncut Shiraz was the first wine produced by Gemtree, an organic and biodynamic winemaker based in McLaren Vale, South Australia. The style highlights the fruity and generous nature of the shiraz grape with a long, lingering finish. The big and bright personality of this shiraz makes it a winning barbecue red. Drink now to 2028. Vegan friendly. Available in British Columbia at the above price, various prices in Alberta.

Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Baco Noir 2020 (Canada), $15.95

Rating:88 /100

The Speck brothers at Henry of Pelham have been champions of baco noir since 1988 and have successfully made the unassuming French hybrid grape one of the staples of their portfolio. This is the entry level version, which shows the juicy fruity and gutsy character common to well-made examples of baco. The mix of berry and currant fruit gains interest from toasted oak notes and makes for a crowd-pleasing style. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario at the above price or direct, henryofpehlam.com, various prices in Alberta, $17.99 in Saskatchewan, $15.99 in Manitoba, $17.50 in Quebec (2019 vintage), $19.99 in Newfoundland.

Oyster Bay Pinot Grigio 2021 (New Zealand), $19.95

Rating:87 /100

Another consistent performer, Oyster Bay’s fruity and enjoyable pinot grigio offers nice yellow apple, citrus and melon along with subtle spice notes. Its refreshing style makes it a safe bet for entertaining or bringing along to a dinner party. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $21.99 in Saskatchewan, $18.99 in Manitoba, $20.05 in Quebec, $24.29 in New Brunswick, $23.79 in New Brunswick, $23.79 in Nova Scotia, $22.19 in Prince Edward Island, $22.79 in Newfoundland.

Pazo das Bruxas Albarino 2019 (Spain), $21.95

Rating:89 /100

The Albarino grape can make mouthwatering, fruity wines with floral or mineral accents. Terrific examples suchas this one made by the Torres family in Rias Baixas are great aperitif styles or winning matches with seafood dishes. It is an intensely aromatic and flavourful white wine with a refreshing character. Drink now to 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta.

Rustenberg Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2019 (South Africa), $14.95

Rating:88 /100

Chenin blanc from four bush vine vineyards in the Bottelary sub-region of Stellenbosch is used to produce this fresh and fruity wine. The citrus, honey and floral notes are easy to appreciate, and the refreshing finish makes for a white wine you can enjoy on its own or with a meal. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario.

Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes, restaurant news and more. Sign up today.