Comparison Tasting Two Box Wines: Black Box Merlot 2013 and Peter Vella Merlot NV

Recommendation: Black Box: Not bad, very inexpensive Merlot. Vella: Not recommended.

Winery/Producer: Black Box: Black Box Wines, Madera, California. Vella: Peter Vella Wines; Modesto, California.

Grape Variety: Black Box: 81% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 4% Petite Sirah and 4% Mixed Red. Vella blend unavailable.

Geographic Region, Appellation: California.

Vintage: Black Box 2013; Vella: Non-vintage.

Price: Black Box: $13.99/3 Liter box (4-bottles). Vella: $9.99/ 5 Liter box (6 1/2 bottles).

Purchased From: Ralph’s Grocery Store; Agoura Hills, California.

Paired With: Greek chicken and sipping.


    He said: While we were in California we took the opportunity to blind taste two Merlot box wines the local grocery store had on sale. Here’s what we thought of them…

    Both were clear ruby red color, the Black Box being a tad darker in color. Both had very light aromas, the black Box having hints of fruit (and leather was mentioned) while the Villa had hints of sweetness. The Black Box had a fruit taste with noticeable spice and finished very slightly tart. The Vella had a smooth, very heavy sweet fruit taste that continued through the finish. Both were light bodied and sweet; however, the Vella simply tasted like it was watered down with fruit juice. Our son and daughter-in-law commented that the Vella was “nice and smooth”, but when everybody picked what they wanted for their second glass, we all choose the Black Box!!! My comment would be the Black Box had some resemblance of Merlot while the Vella was simply overly sweet red box wine. The Black Box however, was a cut above traditional box wine. And, at $3.50 a bottle is a “not bad” value for inexpensive Merlot. I have to admit its lack of obvious side-by-side overwhelming sweetness was a real positive for me. Would I recommend either of them…for a big picnic or other occasion where inexpensive red wine (with some sweetness) was called for the Black Box could fit in well. The Villa, even at $1.50 a bottle, never!!!

    She said: Some box wines are said to be quite good so I eagerly embraced the idea of a side-by-side blind tasting involving box wines. We had heard about Black Box and decided to try it with a less notable box wine so that we could get a feel for just how much better a “good” box wine could be. Judging the color and aroma, there was little difference. The taste, however was different with the Black Box having a slightly peppery flavor. Both were sweet and very fruity tasting but the Vella was SIGNIFICANTLY sweeter and become a bit clawing as a result. Both were fairly smooth, low in tannins, and had a short finish.

    I think it is remarkable that the Black Box, a drinkable wine, can be produced for the price we paid. Of the the two the Black Box stands out because of its peppery quality and less sweetness. It’s not fine Merlot but it is very inexpensive. The Vella was simply unpleasantly sweet.


Alcohol: Black Box: 13.5% Vella: 12%

Bar code: Black Box: 0 81434 00002 6 Vella: 0 85000 00301 5.

Imported by: NA