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The Under 13% Solution


Wine 92

The Under 13% Solution

carswell | May 13, 2007 01:02 PM

On Thursday I tasted through most of the 2004 Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from Niagara's new star, Clos Jordanne. Notes will follow but one thing that stood out was the alcoholic content: 14.4% for the Village Reserve Chardonnay and 14.8% for the Claystone Terrace Pinot, to take two examples. In Ontario wines!

The trend to high-alcohol wines is alarming. Not only are such wines often hot and unbalanced, they're drinker-hostile: a 16% wine has one third more alcohol per volume than a 12% wine, meaning if you don't want to get sloshed, you have to drink less.

Yesterday I ran across the following quote from Michael Broadbent in Marc de Villier's entertaining *The Heartbreak Grape* (Broadbent was writing in *Decanter*): "The influence [of these wines] with an obscenely high alcoholic content is, in my opinion, disastrous. It is now admitted -- though not by all -- that they are too heavy for food, to heady as a drink. The combination of a hot climate and later-picked riper grapes is some excuse. But where are the old and tried wines of yore? Wines of delicacy and finesse, with modest (indeed unremarked-upon) alcoholic content, wines to appeal unthrustingly to the senses? Wines perfect with food?"

Where indeed. I can remember delicious under 13% Zinfandel blends from Ridge. Been a while since any of those have been made...

To their shame, Parker and Wine Spec and most other reviewers aren't raising a stink about this. On the contrary, they're helping to drive the trend. Case in point:

So what can be done to counter the trend? We, the consumers, can fight with our pocketbooks.

With that in mind, how about listing delicious wines we encounter that have an alcoholic content of less than 13%: The Under 13% Solution. To keep things concise, let's declare categories of wine that are, by definition, low alcohol (German Rieslings and Savoie's Bugey Cerdon, for example) as hors concours.

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