When Off Track Wines suggested we try a selection of its South Australian wines, I was somewhat bemused by the claim that the range was targeted explicitly to adventurous travellers. Given the diversity of travel types, I wondered how they could suit the tastebuds of such a broad audience.
But it turns out the attraction to offroaders is in the packaging. This unique offering is a selection of varieties in 250ml aluminium cans delivering an easy and safe way to pack and transport your tipple.
Off Track Wines come in five varieties, so there is probably a selection for most tastes and occasions. As well as the standard white and red, you can choose two sparklings in red and white and a rose. The wines come in a 12-pack of your favourite, delivered to your door.
The idea of wine in cans was introduced to Australia by the owners of Zonte’s Footstep in McLaren Vale, who have more than 20 years of winemaking experience. They saw many advantages in presenting wine in cans. After six years of experimentation and development, they launched the product in late 2022 at the South Australian 4WD Show to an appreciative audience. Canned wine is a rapidly growing segment worldwide and is particularly popular in the USA, where annual sales hit around $75m.
One of the significant benefits is the light weight of the cans. A 12-pack is the same as four bottles but weighs only 3.2kg which is 30 per cent lighter than the full bottles and 90 per cent less than the empties. The pack takes up the space of a bottle, and they can be stored in little nooks in drawers or the car fridge. On top of that, the cans chill quickly to save on power, so you can have a cold wine ready when you want to enjoy it.
The cans are a handy 250ml for two glasses per can, and the company supplies quality to the equivalent of a $24 bottle.
The wines have distinctive and attractive packaging themed around different localities:
- The Outback is Calling - a sparkling shiraz served chilled
- The River is Calling – a sparkling white – essentially a prosecco served chilled
- The Desert is Calling – white vermentino serve chilled.
- The Ocean is Calling- rose- primarily grenache serve chilled
- The Mountains are Calling - red in a light shiraz style
When it comes to wine, I can't claim much expertise, so to explore the Off Track experience, we gathered a crew who knew a red from a white. Anne and Brian are retired hoteliers, and Heather loves all things light and bubbly. The only wine I drink is sparkling red, which will give you an idea of my ranking as a sommelier.
So, the scores, please.
The River is Calling (sparkling white 11 per cent alcohol.) This has a rich aroma and light colour with fine bubbles and a fruity and slightly peppery flavour. It’s fresh and very drinkable and would be an agreeable accompaniment to afternoon hors d’oeuvres 8/10
The Desert Is Calling (white 11.5 per cent alcohol). This Vermento is a light wine that avoids being too sweet. A pale citrusy wine that’s slightly acidic and is great with entrée and lighter meals 7.5/10
The Outback is Calling (sparkling shiraz 14 per cent alcohol). It's not just the higher alcohol content that won me over; this is a refreshing bubbly with plenty of rich flavours and zing. Fruity and not too sweet, it will be perfect on a hot afternoon watching the desert sun slip below the sand dunes 8/10
The Ocean is Calling (rose 13 per cent alcohol). Here is a niche wine with almost universal memories of Mateus to give it context. It’s light and fruity without going overboard. The crew called it surprisingly good. 7.5/10
The Mountains are Calling (Shiraz 12.5% alcohol) This was going to be the hardest test for our red-loving crew, and while it is very drinkable, it might lack the body and earthiness some red fanciers seek. But it’s enjoyable and would go well with a simmering barbecue 7/10
The wines work out at around $24 a bottle, and they are good value at that price. So, I'd call this new way of packaging wine a success. It's a safe and convenient way to travel with your favourite variety, and the quality will appeal to most wine lovers.
You will find Off Track Wines online at www.offtrackwines.com.au. A 12-pack is $98.50 plus postage.