Banks Brothers Chardonnay No 3

Banks Brothers Chardonnay No.3, 13%, Hemel-en-Aarde, South Africa (13%)

(£21 for three 250ml cans)

We’ve been trying a fair few wines in so-called alternative formats recently. Including cans – like this one.

And this is, without doubt, the best wine we’ve ever tried out of a can.

It’s very serious barrel-aged Chardonnay, made by serial over-achievers Newton Johnson in Hemel-en-Aarde, an excellent region for this variety.

It’s succulent but savoury with flavours of ripe red apples and toasted nuts. Dry, complex, serious, creamy textured but juicy and insistent. Very fine juice indeed.

That said, it’s not cheap – £7 per 250ml can works out at £21 per bottle. Mind you, even at that price the wine quality stacks up. (7/10, Susie, Nov 2021)

If you want to explore the world of cans and alternative formats a bit more, listen to our podcast on the subject: WTAF – Wine’s Alt Format Warriors Battle Climate Change.

In the meantime, here are some further recommendations for alt-format wines, from bag-in-box to bagnum and cans:

BAG-IN-BOX: BIB Wine Company Encostas da Pedra Alta Douro Branco 2019, Portugal (12.5%)  – a characterful, complex white with plenty of flavour (apricots, peaches, wild herbs) and volume in the palate (it’s part barrel-fermented). A touch of rugged minerality makes it all the more engaging (£38.50 per 2.25-litre box)

BAGNUM: VinNaturo Dionisio de Nova Tank #10 Airen/Macabeo, Spain (12%) – an orange wine that’s not too orange, made by leaving the wine on its skins for three weeks then ageing for a year in amphora (then a bit more in the bag…) Glazed apricot and peach aromas, with a touch of ginger biscuit. Supple, firm, food-friendly, versatile. (£25 for 1.5 litre pouch)

CAN: The Canned Wine Co Grenache rosé No. 3 2020 (12.5%) – pale pink with a touch of spritz, this is a dry, elegant rosé with delicate flavours of pear, herbs and summer berries. Provence-lite, very moreish. (£16.50 for three 250ml cans)

BAG-IN-BOX: Azienda Tilli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2020 (13.5%) – a wine that’s just bursting with joy, packed full of vivid plum and blackberry flavours, positively teeth-staining but what the hell. You dive right in. Totally extrovert, utterly rewarding midweek red. (£33.50 for 2.25-litre box)

KEYKEG: Boas Quintas Dao Opta Tinto NV, Portugal – elegant plummy, earthy aromas with leather and floral hints. Juicy savoury fine palate, proper Dao, with a gently bittersweet finish. Grown-up.

CAN: The Copper Crew Merlot 2018, Western Cape, South Africa (13.5%) – elegant berry fruit with a touch of tobacco maturity. Serious stuff! Fine tannin, savoury, roasted pepper, dry and firm. Very grown-up. (£24.99 for six 250ml cans)

BAG-IN-BOX: La Cox AOC Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux (13%) – Chateau Peybonhomme is about 5 kms from Margaux and farms its 100% Merlot vines biodynamically. Warning: this one is pretty funky (bretty) with leathery dark fruit. The tannin is still supple, though, and the fruit lively. Savoury, complex, serious – a conversation wine. (£62.50 for 5-litre box)

BAG-IN-BOX: Chateau Couronneau Cuvee Clair de Lune Bordeaux 2019 (14.5%) – proper claret, with roasted pepper and dried plum aromas. The palate shows fine firm tannin, with classic proportions and good intensity. Touch of spice, relatively young still, serious and food-friendly. (£39.90 for 2.25-litre box)