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Quady North: Excellence that’s just too cool

Readers who have followed Wine Wednesday since its debut last January may remember the inaugural column was a strong endorsement of wine on tap for by-the-glass consumption.

Delivery from a keg via a bar tap provides optimum preservation of wine against spoilage through oxidation, a common problem with open, partially filled bottles. It also reduces the carbon footprint of the product through bulk packaging and makes it less expensive. The winemaker can provide a top quality vintage at lower cost if he keeps packaging to a minimum.

Here’s another noteworthy foray into nontraditional packaging by Herb Quady, noted Rogue Valley winemaker, co-owner and operator with Brian Gruber of Barrel 42, one of Medford’s three custom-crush wineries. With the introduction of his Quady North GSM Rosé in a 250 ml can, Quady becomes the first winemaker in Southern Oregon to embrace wine in cans. The trend made The New York Times Aug. 15, in “Front Burner,” a food-centric feature by Florence Fabricant. The piece focuses on Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Noir and a sparkling wine from Domaine Chandon to make the point that wine in cans shouldn’t be dismissed as low quality — quite the contrary. What it does represent is a picnic-friendly, completely practical packaging for wines to be consumed now.

Who can resist rosé in a slim, single-serving can emblazoned with a luscious rose in full bloom? They come three to a box that, besides the rose, features Quady’s iconic portrait in his signature Che Guevara beret and proclaims, “At Quady North we are decidedly pro-rosé. In fact we like rosé so much that we believe its consumption should not be restricted by the limitations of its container. This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre is bright and fresh, decidedly pink, and ready for travel.”

In other words, it’s way too cool. This isn’t just me saying so. To be sure, I checked with my go-to millennial wine savant Amira Makansi, Neuman Hotel Group restaurant supervisor and author of the soon-to-be-released “Literary Libations: What to Drink With What You Read” (Skyhorse Press, 2018).

“I’m a strong believer in canned wine,” Makansi says. “It’s a great way to introduce wine to new markets and to make it more portable, which is great for the outdoors focus we have here in Oregon. Quady North’s branding fits the canned wine market perfectly, and I’m excited that they’re bringing a high-quality approach to such an accessible format. I can’t wait to see where this goes.”

For Quady, wine in cans is just one more way to get his wine out to the people. His tongue-in-cheek, pro-proletariat approach borrows the idiom of revolution — note the armory-themed names of his wines — to characterize a brand that’s all about innovation and enjoyment. But make no mistake, he’s also all about crafting superb wines.

The October issue of Wine Enthusiast that will hit the street soon awarded Quady North 2014 Flagship Syrah a record-breaking 95 points, the highest score ever received by a Rogue Valley wine. Quady’s 2014 vintages were the first to be produced at Barrel 42. Quady notes that the new winery was a big step in improving quality overall. Wine Enthusiast evidently agrees.

Quady states that his GSM Rosé in cans has been very well received. “Customers at both the Ashland and Medford food co-ops are particularly accepting of this alternative packaging.” In the spirit of the whole phenomenon, Kelly McNamara of Ashland Food Co-op’s specialty foods department (wine, cheese and bread — is this my dream job?) adds, “Besides everything else, where could you find a greater table setting?”

What’s your take? Email MJ Daspit at mjdaspitwinot@gmail.com. For more on this topic, check out her Backstory Blog at mjdaspit.com.

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