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Profile Four: How Varietals Differ from Taste Profiles and Where We Talk About Pinot Noir, Barbera and Pais

We like to call our Profile Four the crowd pleaser. We also like to think our wines have their own personalities and if Profile Four were walking around with us, she would be the one everyone wants to be around, because she’s just so easy going.

This wine could make goldilocks happy. It’s not too tannic, not too acidic, not too sweet, not too dry, not too rich. It’s just right. Just tannic enough to be medium bodied, not sweet but fruit forward, so you taste and smell dark stone fruits and berries when you sip. It goes down smooth and easy and tastes great with almost every food – just maybe don’t pair it with habanero salsa or extra spicy dishes. The acid mixed with the heat will overwhelm the subtleties of taste and create an imbalance that will make the wine feel flabby on your tongue.

Too much wine speak? We totally get you, our founder, Sarah, likes to use less words to simply say about our Number Four that it’s our crowd pleaser: a gorgeous ruby-colored, light and vibrant wine that’s a touch earthy with hints of cherries, currants and blackberries.

Blending to taste profile and the secret to Profile Four

So what is the secret to our Profile Four (and all of our wines)? Well, we design our wines by taste profile – the perfect combination of the tastes and textures wine drinkers love most in their wines – as opposed to limiting ourselves by varietals, vintage or growing regions. We’re out to simplify things and be your go to house wine, the glass you love every single time – and you just can’t do that the same way with a varietal.

We’ve all found that bottle of wine we just adore. So we buy it over and over again and then all of a sudden, that same bottle, with the same label, from the same vineyard, doesn’t taste the same. Something has changed and it’s no longer our favorite. Maybe it got sweeter, or more dry. Maybe it has more tannins or is more acidic – or less. Maybe it’s got too much dark fruit and not enough earthiness. Whatever it is, we don’t love it anymore. This is because single varietals are subject to anything that happens to the grapes during the year before harvest (and anything and everything in the soil). Vagaries of weather, fluctuations in soil content, changes in pruning, fire – even smoke will affect the grapes. Those fluctuations can be mitigated when making wines based on taste profiles, rather than relying on that single varietal.

Take the finicky pinot noir grape, known for being difficult to grow and to harvest. (Side note: if you like pinot noir, you will love our Profile Four.) One of the oldest known vines, Pinot originated around 3000 BCE in the fertile crescent of ancient Mesopotamia – an arc of land between the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea in what is now parts of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. There is some evidence that pinot noir could have originated in France, but it hasn’t been proven solidly enough to topple its widely accepted West Asia origin.

The Romans, much like birds though a lot more violent, scattered the pinot noir grape all over Europe, as they roamed and pillaged. But this grape doesn’t survive, much less thrive, just anywhere. It is delicate, fussy and susceptible to too much cold, too much heat, too much dampness, too much aridness, too little or too much water, too much wind. You get the idea. Pinot noir grapes are picky about their soil too – they like it loamy, silty, limestoney, volcanic and sedimentary. Basically ancient bedrock with little dirt on top. They are the most susceptible to disease and mold (due to their small, tightly packed clusters) and they are sensitive to pruning methods. As the Romans traipsed through France, they planted vines in what is now Burgundy, which turned out to have the perfect conditions for growing pinot noir grapes.

The Romans didn’t settle in France, so their vineyards were left to sort things out on their own. Cue in the monks. It’s 1098 A.D. and a new order of monks is founded in Cîteaux, a small locale in Burgundy, very close to present-day Dijon and is named after their town. The Cistercian monks took vows of celibacy, silence and hard work – believing all these things brought them closer to God. They moved away from their town center and out to the rocky hills where they began to tend the ancient and abandoned Roman pinot noir vines.

They were experimental vignerons and fastidious with their note taking and record keeping. It is these monks who are credited with creating the notion of what we now call terrior – all the different things that go into the experience of the grape while it grows – and a big part of what ultimately makes a grape (and the finished wine) taste like it does. For nearly 600 years the Cistercian monks grew pinot noir grapes and made wine for royalty and the church – pinot noir at one point becoming the wine of the sacrament.

Made to taste expectations, not by varietal

But our Profile Four isn’t made with just pinot noir, we include aspects of gamay, barbera, pais and coastal Syrah, Grenache or Mourvedre — less well known grapes, but ones that provide exactly the aspects we’re looking for to create the taste that’s expected from our Profile Four.

Gamay, discovered in the mid 14th century and named after the town in France where it was first recorded, rounds out the fruit notes in our wine, adding a bit of cherry, boysenberry and raspberry, along with violet and black tea. The pais (which hails from Chile) and the Mourvedre (from the Rhone valley) also adds to the underlying earthy vibe of our Four. While Gamay is a descendent of the pinot grape, it is easier to grow than pinot and it played a role in bringing life back to the economy after the Black Death. In spite of this, the Duke of Burgundy banned it from his kingdom and now Gamay is primarily grown in Beaujolais.

The barbera grape, native to Piedmont, Italy, brings its own fruit notes of cherries, strawberries and raspberries to our Profile Four while adding a little extra kick of acidity which helps create its lightness and complexity. Barbera’s low tannin level enhances all these aspects and the Syrah and Grenache (also from the Rhone valley) along with the Mourvedre fill out this wine, giving it structure and a lovely round feel as you sip, creating the perfect texture of this wine, making it so easy to drink.

Even though we make our wines by taste profile, we love varietals and we love a good taste test. Gather some friends and have your own tasting with our Profile Four and these editor’s picks.

Domaine Des Versauds Morgon, 2019

Domaine Loubejac Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Macchia Barbera Delicious Lodi

As always, we want to know what you think and if you did your own private taste test. Email us at or tag us @drinkboxt and share your tasting story.

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