A Dozen Low Alcohol Wines Big on Flavor

lower alcohol wine

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

Hugel 2011 Grossi Laüe Limited Edition Pinot Noir (Alsace); $55, 12% abv, 94 points. A pure startling cherry note rises from the glass. It is flanked by notes of autumn forest, tar and dried orange rind. Evidently, there is some development and evolution here. The palate is alive and fills not only the mouth but all the senses with its alluring aromas, yet it is firmly anchored in earthier tones. The body is svelte and fresh: its fine-boned structure is as much down to fresh acidity as it is to finely flexed tannins. This is profound, lasting and delicious but also deliciously light. —Anne Krebiehl MW

Foradori 2013 Morei Teroldego (Vigneti delle Dolomiti); $48, 12% abv, 93 points. At first shy and brooding, this slowly opens up in the glass, offering aromas of black-skinned berry, blue flower, licorice and flint. The palate has concentration and finesse, boasting chewy black cherry, blackberry, chopped mint, anise and mineral alongside firm acidity and lithe tannins. Give this time to fully develop. Drink 2017–2023. —Kerin O’Keefe

Gerhard Pittnauer 2015 Dorflagen St. Laurent (Burgenland); $24, 12% abv, 91 points. Aromatic ripe, red cherries reveal a tart touch of redcurrant on the nose. The palate has that same appetizing, red-fruited allure: refreshing and juicy, but never heavy. A fresh-faced and authentic red, it has been captured at the perfect intersection of ripeness and crunch. It can even be served a little chilled. —AK

Hudson-Chatham 2014 Middlehope Casscles Vineyards Baco Noir (Hudson River Region); $25, 12% abv, 91 points. This perfumed floral red made from Baco Noir, an underappreciated French-American hybrid grape, offers surprising depth of complexity and finesse. Hints of dark char, porcini and spice mingle amidst prettier tones of violet and black cherry. It’s crisp and lively on the palate, edged by layers of fine feathery tannins and a crush of granite on the finish. Ready to drink now, but tuck a few bottles away to enjoy from now until 2022 if you can. —Anna Lee C. Iijima

Clay Pigeon 2013 Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley); $28, 12% abv, 90 points. Good grip is immediately apparent, along with a burst of tangy citrus and cherry fruit. Sour plum comes up as well, and it’s clearly the fruit, not the barrels, that are in the center ring. A high-acid finish keeps it fresh and lively. —Paul Gregutt

Cave de Tain 2015 Nobles Rives Syrah (Collines RhĂ´daniennes); $12, 12% abv, 88 points. This entry-level cuvĂ©e from the cooperative in Tain l’Hermitage is a solid value, offering up peppery, dark fruit aromas and ample flavors of cassis. black olive and espresso. The tannins are firm, so pair it with rare beef or lamb over the near term. Best Buy. —Joe Czerwinski

23 Low-Calorie Wines

White Wines

Donkey & Goat 2016 Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay (Napa Valley); $32, 11.7% abv, 94 points. This vineyard is in the West Oak Knoll area of the valley. The wine was left unfined and unfiltered by the winemakers, who employ native yeast for fermentation. Juicy stone fruit and zippy acidity strike a chord of balance and complexity that’s low in oak and deliciously crisp in peach. —Virginie Boone

Château Les Combes 2016 Bordeaux Blanc; $15, 12%, 91 points. FrĂ©dĂ©ric Borderie brings his winemaking experience from Australia and Napa Valley back to the family property and this crisp and perfumed wine. It has great spiciness balanced by crisp green and white stone fruits. The wine could do with a few more months, so drink from late 2017. Editors’ Choice. —Roger Voss

Bird in Hand 2016 Two in the Bush Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc (Adelaide Hills); $16, 12% abv, 90 points. This is a complex and delicious drop from the cool climes of the Adelaide Hills, offering up notes of pineapple, ground ginger, grapefruit and lime blossoms. The mouthfeel is lovely and long, with a slippery texture, balanced acidity and a zingy, white-pepper finish.

Dr. Hermann 2015 Riesling Trocken (Mosel); $20, 12% abv, 90 points. Punchy tangerine and lime flavors abound in this zesty dry Riesling. Taut and balanced, it’s concentrated and fruity yet nuanced by shades of dusty pollen and minerals. A bristle of bitter lime pith reverberates with persistence on the finish. Drink now through 2020. —ALI

Sparkling Wines

Serveaux Fils NV CuvĂ©e Brut Pinot Meunier (Champagne); $60, 12% abv, 94 points. This small production wine showcases the qualities of Pinot Meunier. It’s rich and smooth, with plenty of white fruit and an intense streak of lime crispness. Having already had time to mature, it hints at toastiness on the finish. Drink now. —RV

Parxet 2012 Titiana Brut RosĂ© Sparkling (Cava); $25, 11.5%, 90 points. Yeasty bready aromas are more smooth and leesy than fruity. This has a round palate that’s full but not creamy due to firm acidity. Melon, peach and vanilla flavors finish yeasty and dry, with moderate complexity. This is made entirely from Pinot Noir. —Michael Schachner


Published on January 5, 2017
Topics: The Lighter Side