We’re back here again, having living room picnics with housemates, lovers, or if you’re me, the cat.
So, let’s talk honestly about quantity over quality for a second. Just kidding, this is an article about bang for your buck. I’ve talked about the old goon bag revival before, so you have my permission to skip this next bit: Goon, which Wikipedia seems to think is a colloquial shortening of ‘flagon’, was patented by South Australian winemaker Thomas Angove on April 20 (the date of my birth) in 1965 (not the year of my birth). Goon has a reputation for being cheap and nasty because it often is both of those things. In recent years, though, there’s been a move back to boxed wine for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s more economical: cheaper than bottling in glass and dealing with expensive closures, it also transports better, is lighter, and is said to be more environmentally friendly. Secondly, it lasts longer. Once you pop the seal, you have weeks (rather than days) to consume the contents because of the way the bag acts as a vacuum. So, can you have a good goon time without adding Cottee’s cordial to Fruity Lexia? I think yes, and here are some suggestions for your consideration—BYO hills hoist.
Jilly Wine Co. 3L $70 each or $200 for all three via Jilly Wines
Jilly Wines are made by self-proclaimed ‘Lone Ranger’ Jared Dixon in New England, NSW. He’s been making wines up there for a few years now and they’re just getting better and better. A swift convert to the bag o’ wine, Dixon thinks outside the box (sorry) using relatively unconventional varieties and practising a hands-off method of winemaking that allows the grapes to speak for themselves. The 3-litre casks come in three flavours, a 14-day skin macerated Pecorino (fun fact: according to local legend, pecorino the cheese gets its name from the regional sheep, or Pecora in Italian, who eat the grapes), which is creamy pina colada pineapple vibes perfect for sunny afternoons; a Grechetto which also sees a fortnight of skin contact which tastes of pear blossom, green apple and white peaches with chewy tannin—an ideal accompaniment to a Sunday roast; and lastly, a Sagrantino Jared describes as ‘raspberry jam and redskins,’ ideal for splashing around at an (insert-your-state’s-COVID-regulations-here) appropriate pizza party.
Carussin Asinoi Barbera d’Asti 3L $65 via Giorgio De Maria Fun Wines
This is an absolute banger. Northwest Italy is renowned for its Barbera, both the fancy kind and the easy-drinking table wine style. We have the latter here. A truly smashable red wine that even your dad would probably dig, in large format. The tangy cranberry bitter orange thing is evened out by some spiciness and the whole thing is fresh af. The wholesome duo who make this wine are committed to ecologically sound farming practices and suggest that this crunchy, juicy little number is best shared with good company, which I think is sound advice for most wine consumption. Best drunk slightly chilled, Carussin Asinoi Barbera d’Asti is absolutely the kind of thing you can take to the park and drink out of tumblers, or sip on while making pasta sauce (a ‘one for the sauce, two for me’ kind of vibe) until your guests arrive. Or, if you’re not allowed guests, there’ll be no one around to judge you for drinking most/all of it solo. You can be in good company when you’re alone, too.
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The Chats Goon x Delinquente Wine Co. 1.5L $45 via Built to Spill
‘Shed rock’ band The Chats, online wine and vinyl merchants Built To Spill, illustrator Campbell Walker (aka Struthless), and the good kids at Delinquente Wine Co. have come together to bring you the most ‘strayan goon bag I have ever seen. From start to finish this whole project makes complete sense. Any band who references Centrelink in their lyrics definitely knows a thing or two about the silver pillow, and the wine is a whole bunch (sorry, another wine joke) better than waiting in line just so ‘Belinda’ can explain why you’re not eligible for benefits. Wild fermented juice of Albarino, Vermentino, Bianco d’Alessano, and Fernando Pires (I don’t know how to say it either) comes together in the glass to create a sort of fragrant Frosty Fruit from the ocean. Peg it to the washing line or drink it out of a plastic cup while perched on a milk crate in the afternoon sun. Pairs well with a rollie and The Saturday Paper quiz.
Valli Unite Rosso Biologico 3L $85 via Not Wasted
A certified organic co-op founded in 1981, Valli Unite started as a group of three anti-capitalist dudes who were sick of seeing agricultural pastures abandoned for big city living. Envisioning an ‘alternative economy for a better world,’ they now boast 30+ members for whom income is second to living sustainably off the land (eat the rich, etc.). Valli Unite are farm-first, and as a result, these wines are always rustic in style, perfect for long tables laden with wholesome food, either potluck or some kind of hedonistic dinner party (the kind born from lockdown boredom or someone’s desire to crack open Ottolenghi Simple). A juicy blend of Dolcetto, Barbera and Merlot, which is pretty on-brand for the region, it’s herbal and green on the nose, with rich plummy fruits on the palate. Plonk it on the table and discuss Marxist theory and general anarchy.
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The Lonely Lady Happy Sack White Wine 1.5L $40 via Blackhearts and Sparrows
A collaboration between Happy Sack Productions and Australian icon Myf Warhurst, this is bloody bonza bag wine. Warhurst launched a podcast called Our Place in late 2020, which aims to explore the concept of ‘Australian culture’ past, present and future. It makes sense then that she’d cover the topic of booze—us Aussies are famous for our love of a cold one. The first episode is literally about goon, so this wine collab (and inclusion here) seems inevitable. The name Lonely Lady comes from Myf’s own pet name for a wine-in-a-box—something she’d keep in the fridge for lonely times (ah, lockdown). She’s partial to a ‘broad fruity palate … cheeky, but not too pretentious,’ and Happy Sack has nailed the brief. An easy-drinking, textural white blend, it is indeed perfect for drinking alone. A good accompaniment to a solo living room dance party or a long hot bath—it’s also a great wine for a sunny afternoon with (house)mates.