Tombstone is one of my all-time-favorite movies. There is just something about the friendship between Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday that gives me all the feels—and I could listen to Val Kilmer’s sexy Southern drawl deliver those witty one-liners all day. Yes, I’d let him be my huckleberry.
I bring this up, because when I was recently presented with cans of Lucky Rock Wine Co.’s sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, I couldn’t help but notice a classic Doc Holliday quote on the label: You’re a daisy if you do. If you’re not a Tombstone fan or weren’t born in the 1800s, this expression might be a little lost on you, but in short, it means that if you’re “a daisy,” you’re something very special.
Over the last few years, canned wine has exploded in the marketplace. Naturally, because of COVID-19, the more convenient and travel-friendly a product is, the better. This is especially true about conveniently packaged alcohol, which, for many, became as essential as toilet paper and hand sanitizer during the shutdowns.
At the beginning of the can craze, I sat down with some friends, ordered a bunch of In-n-Out burgers, and proceeded to taste dozens of canned wines. Trust me when I tell you: They were not all diamonds. In fact, I remember only really being impressed with a handful; even some of the “good” ones were simply better than the other terrible options in front of me.
In the years since, I have tasted myriad wines in aluminum, and I am pleased to report they are only getting better—so much so, in fact, that it’s time I revisit this alternative to glass and offer a new list of truly great wines with a pop top.
Andrew Jones from Field Recordings is not one to rest on his laurels. He is continually creating some of the most exciting and unique wines from the Central Coast of California. Andrew is a pioneer when it comes to this alternative packaging and put his first wine under tab way back in 2013 … long before we knew that drinking in public parking lots was gonna be a legit thing.
It’s amazing how damn delicious these wines are—and for those of us who came of age in the ’80s and ’90s, the labels will trigger some serious high school flashbacks: The Field Recordings Dookie white can is a riff on the Green Day album cover by the same name. The wine is crisp and fresh, like a crunchy Granny Smith apple that has been blended with ripe kiwis and mangos. The red blend features the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill cover and is full of dark-red cherries, blackberries and a fun cardamom spice note. It’s an intense, full-bodied red that is so good with a little chill.
Honestly, I have no idea what grapes go into these two wines; a small amount of each was produced, and there are zero notes available about them. But knowing that Andrew loves working with lesser-known varietals like Touriga Nacional, tannat, charbono and gruner veltliner, they could be made from just about anything!
There are tons of canned rosés on the market, and I’ve tried an exhausting amount of them (and have not been impressed). But when I got hold of the Richvale Pool Party Pink, I couldn’t put it down. This is a new project by famed Sans Liege winemaker Curt Schalchlin, and it delivers the same exceptional quality and masterful winemaking we’ve come to expect from his other wine labels. It has weight and depth while still offering up that quintessential refreshing rosé experience. Dry and zippy on the palate, I loved the flavors of barely ripe berries and Valencia oranges. A blend of organically farmed grenache and mourvèdre from the Santa Barbara Highlands, this is serious stuff.
The Lucky Rock Wine Co. was established by two brothers, Aaron and Jesse Inman, who had a rather unusual upbringing: Their parents were gold-miners in Northern California and lived in a bus that traveled from mine to mine. Lucky Rock is the name of one of the mines where they spent time as children.
I met with Jesse a few weeks ago and tasted the lineup. There was no doubt the wines out of the bottle were fantastic—bright and clean and balanced and flavorful. But how would the canned versions hold up? It’s rare to taste the exact same wine poured out of two different vessels at the same time, so we did a little blind head-to-head: the canned sauvignon blanc versus the bottled sauvignon blanc. Would I be able to taste the difference? Would the lack of oxygen and light change the flavor? Would the aluminum reveal itself against its glass counterpart? The answers: Each a definite no. There was absolutely zero perceivable difference between the two wines. Both were delicious, with citrus aromas bursting from the glass, wonderful minerality and a touch of lemon blossom.
The Lucky Rock pinot noir is juicy and lush, with flavors of raspberries, Thanksgiving cranberries and boysenberries mixed with baking spices. This is a classic California pinot noir that you will not believe comes out of a can.
I’d be willing to bet if I poured any of these wines for you in a blind tasting, you wouldn’t be able to tell whether they came out of a can … but you’re a daisy if you do.