Seeing Joel Gott's name among the three winemakers responsible for Bandit varietals was enough for us. Gott is one of California's more innovative talents, and the Bandit brand extends his reach to a new demographic. We sampled the nonvintage Bandit California Pinot Grigio, which goes for about $4 for 500ml and about $8 for a full liter at several bay area supermarket chains.
Here's the hook: Bandit wines are not bottled but rather delivered to market in a paper container called a Tetra Pak, which represents a significant reduction in packaging and, therefore, shipping costs and fuel used in shipping. As the Rebel Wine guys say, "It's what's inside the bottle that counts, so we got rid of the bottle." To which we say amen.
This lively white is packaged in eye-catching lime green. In the glass, it offers a nose of lemon and Bartlett pear with a nice, subtle minerality underlying the fruit. On the tongue, well-balanced pear, honey and lemon predominate through midpalate, easing into a medium-long clean and dry finish with a snap of ginger to close the deal. This delightfully refreshing, fruit-forward and surprisingly lush table wine is a winner, and we look forward to trying other Bandit wines, especially the highly touted merlot.
Drink it on its own or toss it (it's unbreakable) into your picnic basket or beach bag along with cold fried chicken and watermelon and go!
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.