A Dozen Low Alcohol Wines Big on Flavor

Cut back on the alcohol without sacrificing taste. Check out this mixed case of lighter red, white and sparkling wines with abundant flavor and variety.
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Maybe your January isn’t a dry one but you’re still looking for wines with lower alcohol. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor, quality or variety. Here is a mixed case of dry reds, whites and sparkling. These twelve wines offer a little something for everyone, and they all come in at 12% abv or less.

Red Wines

COS 2014 Pithos Rosso (Vittoria); $30, 12% abv, 95 points. Radiant and earthy, this blend of Frappato and Nero d’Avola boasts enticing scents suggesting dark-skinned berry, leather, sunbaked earth, sea breeze and a floral note. The creamy, succulent palate doles out juicy black cherry, black raspberry, white pepper and aromatic herb alongside supple tannins and fresh acidity. A saline note wraps up the finish. Drink 2017–2024. —Kerin O’Keefe

Clau de Nell 2014 Grolleau (Val de Loire); $54, 12% abv, 90 points. This is one of three wines produced by the estate created by the late Anne-Claude Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy. This wine uses the very local Grolleau, grown biodynamically. Unusually this is a red wine (Grolleau is normally found in rosé). The wine is lightly stalky with red-currant fruit and intense acidity. It is light in texture but rich in complexity, and has some aging potential. Drink now, but better from 2018. —Roger Voss

Domaine des Terres Dorées 2015 L’Ancien (Beaujolais); $19, 12% abv, 90 points. This is a delicious, ripe and fruity wine that comes from the south of Beaujolais. It has ripe red-berry fruits and soft tannins allied to a juicy acidity that keeps it all fresh. Drink now. —R.V.

Bedell 2014 First Crush Merlot-Cabernet Franc (North Fork of Long Island); $30, 11.5% abv, 89 points. Ethereally light and brisk, this cherry and anise-scented red offers loads of quaffability and elegance without a lot of complication. Briskly concentrated flavors of blackberry and currant are delightfully refreshing. It’s pleasantly puckering and the finish is framed by fine yet persistent tannins. Drink now through 2019. —Anna Lee C. Iijima

Gernot and Heike Heinrich 2014 Zweigelt (Burgenland); $20, 12% abv, 89 points. Very slight notes of reduction still cling to the wine, but a swirl or two reveals crisp, crunchy red cherry. On the slender palate the fruit is pleasantly tart and even more crunchy but wonderfully vibrant. A refreshing, easy-drinking red. Drink soon. —Anne Krebiehl MW

Trapiche 2016 Costa & Pampa Pinot Noir (Buenos Aires); $20, 12% abv, 89 points. Trapiche may be on to something with this Atlantic Coast Pinot Noir. Earthy aromas suggest bacon, tire rubber and oak-infused berry and cherry. The mouthfeel is fresh but weighty. Flavors of roasted cherry and plum are earthy, while this inaugural Pinot from south of Buenos Aires tastes meaty and feels warm on the finish. —Michael Schachner

23 Low-Calorie Wines

White Wines

Palmina 2014 Larner Vineyard Malvasia Bianca (Ballard Canyon); $26, 12% abv, 91 points. Honey, concentrated orange blossoms and very ripe jasmine flowers make for a sweet-smelling, nearly treacly nose on this dynamic bottling by Steve Clifton. And in the magic that is this Italian grape, the palate is bone-dry, with touches of lemon balm, lemon verbena and white flower petals. It’s unique, interesting and tasty. —Matt Kettmann

Semeli 2015 Feast Moschofilero (Peloponnese); $12, 12% abv, 91 points. This stylish and distinctive wine starts with aromas of lemon blossom and slate, followed by flavors of exotic white fruits and citrus. A crisp mineral backbone gives the wine focus and flair. A delicious white at an affordable price. Best Buy. Susan Kostrzewa

Aveleda 2015 Quinta da Aveleda White (Vinho Verde); $9, 11% abv, 90 points. This blend of the two classic grapes of Vinho Verde, Loureiro and Alvarinho, is packed with fruit. Apples, lemons and a touch of ripe pear just fill the palate. It is a dry wine, refreshing and crisp with a mineral aftertaste. Best Buy. —R.V.

Lasalde Elkartea 2015 Txakoli Aitzalde Hondarrabi Zuri (Getariako Txakolina); $18, 10.5% abv, 88 points. Grassy aromas and a whiff of celery lead to a snappy palate with fresh but tart lemon, gooseberry and white-currant flavors. A juicy fresh finish with citrus flavors is typical of well-executed Txakoli. —M.S.

Sparkling Wines

Alta Alella 2012 Privat Laietà Gran Reserva Brut Nature (Cava); $36, 12% abv, 92 points. Apple, mineral and mild briny aromas are complex and interesting. Firm in body, with cutting acidity, this brut nature is bone dry, with white stone-fruit flavors that lean towards neutral except for a hint of salt. Minerality and cleansing acidity push an air-tight finish. Editors’ Choice. —M.S.

Jansz NV Premium Rosé (Tasmania); $27, 12% abv, 91 points. There aren’t many better values in rosé sparklers than this. Hints of toast and citrus add nuance to strawberry scents on the nose, while brioche notes add depth to the palate. It’s a bit creamy in texture, yet remains dry and refreshing on the finish. Editors’ Choice. —Joe Czerwinski

Published on January 5, 2017
Topics: Wine Recommendations
About the Author
Fiona Adams
Senior Tasting Coordinator

Fiona Adams’ excitement for wine was sparked at a young age by her father. Working in a handful of New York City wine shops and a stint in Long Island wine country, she developed her wine knowledge, eventually earning her Level 2 WSET certification. Joining Wine Enthusiast in 2014, Fiona hopes to share her passion for natural wines.

Email: fadams@wineenthusiast.net



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