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July 28, 2011

CLIF Family Climber Wine Review

This is just one person’s opinion … but one of the perks that really make blogging worth the trouble is when a box shows up at your house with the following sticker attached:


Well, yahoo! Let’s get on with the testing then.

Sadly, I had to show a bit of self-restraint when my pouch of CLIF Family Wines Climber Chardonnay arrived a couple of weeks ago. It was part of a larger care package the company sent me in preparation for my recent 100-miler, and, well … I didn’t think that getting sloshed was the best idea when I was supposed to be tapering for the biggest race of my life.

However, as soon as I crawled out of bed after running at Tahoe, I made a beeline (actually, it wasn’t quite that simple; picture a bee moving in slow motion, listing from side to side, moaning and groaning the whole way – and that’s a more accurate representation. Call it a “crippled bee” line) to the fridge to get my product review game back on. You know … call of duty and all that.

My first exposure to this particular wine came more than a year ago, when it caught my attention during a tour of the old CLIF company headquarters (scroll through that post for a photo of the wine bottle). On that visit, my friends and I learned that CLIF owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford extended their passion for all things delicious and natural into the realm of wine and gourmet food. Their exploration led to the purchase of Napa Valley land that would become the CLIF Family Farm, which is now a certified organic farm featuring livestock as well as an olive orchard and vineyard. Their Climber label debuted in 2006 with sourced grapes from sustainable Northern California farms, with new varieties added to the collection with each passing year.

The big development this year doesn’t have anything to do with grapes, however – it’s about the packaging. Their new Climber pouch is described as "the ultimate in all-terrain wine transportation", and is both highly functional and environmentally friendly. The soft-sided packaging is shatterproof and very easily portable, which makes it perfect for taking to the beach, outdoor gatherings, or anyplace that glass containers aren’t allowed. It's produced with an 80% lower carbon footprint and produces 90% less waste than traditional glass bottles. And as a member of 1% for the Planet, CLIF is donating 1% of all Climber pouch sales to an organization called Trees for the Future. Best of all, the Climber pouch holds the equivalent of two 750-ml bottles, so there’s plenty of good cheer to share with everyone.

Accordingly, I took the pouch to a family dinner to have an impromptu tasting party. If you’re curious as to our credentials, they’re admittedly rather thin, and none of us claims to be a true wine connoisseur. However, Monterey County is one of the most prestigious wine-making regions in the entire world, and we’ve done a lot of “supporting the local economy”, so to speak. We can’t tell you about fruit aromas or a decisive finish, but pretty much every dinner gathering includes full glasses of wine, and we’ve probably tasted hundreds of different varieties over the years. (On a related note, my idea to start a Drinking and Rambling blog is sounding better all the time).

So how did the chardonnay measure up? My father-in-law summed it up pretty well:   It’s not a $40 bottle of wine … but it’s not too bad.  (Our reviews grew significantly more favorable the more we drank, but I suppose that was predictable.) Considering that the Climber pouch retails for $17, you’re basically paying $8.50 per bottle – and for that price, it’s quite a bit better than comparably priced wines we’ve tried.

One final noteworthy feature of the Climber pouch is the resealable one-way plastic spout. It pours without dripping, and is supposed to keep the wine fresh for up to one month in the fridge – so of course, I saved a little bit of chardonnay for follow-up testing this week. The wine held its taste pretty well – maybe not “3rd glass of wine sitting by the pool two days after running a 100-miler” good, but then again, that might be an unfair yardstick.

Basically, if you want to take some pretty decent wine along on your summertime outings, CLIF Family’s Climber wine is the perfect way to do it. The pouches are available at retail outlets in about 20 states, and can be purchased online (almost nationwide – regulations are a bit tricky in a few states) at the CLIF Family website. The company also has a tasting room in the Napa Valley called Velo Vino (Get it? Bikes! And wine!) that you can visit – check out the website for details.

Needless to say, I owe a very big thanks to the CLIF Company for not only helping fuel my 100-mile effort this month, but making the recovery process a whole lot more enjoyable.

*Product provided by CLIF Company
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at info@runningandrambling.com.

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brownie 7/29/11, 7:11 AM  

Box wine without the box. Good way to get booze to the backcountry. Unfortunately, I haven't seen it in Colorado yet.

Candice,  7/29/11, 10:30 AM  

Climber Pouch is available in Colorado! They are available at Geno's and Chateau Liquors in Denver, Boudler Wine & Spirits, Applejack Wine & Sprits, and many other places. Where are you located? We can help you find the closest store with The Climber Pouch, cheers!

mweston 7/29/11, 4:52 PM  

I would think that if you're actually taking it with you to a remote place, the Cabernet would be a better choice. Plus I just like reds better than whites. Though I guess if you have a cold mountain stream handy...

Blabbermouse 7/29/11, 5:54 PM  

This is my kind of running blog! LOVE it.

Seb 7/30/11, 7:56 PM  

Great post, one of the benefits of running is that we can eat and have the odd glass of wine without feeling guilty.

Chris G,  8/3/11, 9:50 AM  

I was able to pickup the Cabernet at Colorado's Liquor Outlet off N Academy in Colorado Springs.

I don't recall if they had any whites.

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