Rising sea levels are often discussed in the media, alongside the demise of the polar ice-caps, disappearing islands, and perhaps one day, for Venice to vanish. A problem which gets much more press in the wine industry is not the rising of sea levels, but the rising alcohol content in wine.You may be wondering how big, boozy, full-fruit-flavours could ever be a problem? And surely that’s the popular style? You are quite right for asking these questions, and some of it is down to style, but the real problem is to do with nature rather than nurture.
As temperatures rise, so do sugar levels and therefore so does the alcohol. In the warmer wine regions of the world, the ABV of a wine will very often be 13.5% and upwards. Although many consumers don’t mind this level, there are many more who do.
Not only are wines generally rising in alcohol, but the labeling of strength is less clear than you might imagine. European law states that the strength on a bottle of wine can be up to 0.5% above or below the actual amount. This may not seem much, but 13.5% wines become 14% and 14.5% become 15% and so on…
Two weeks ago (22.11.12) thedrinksbusiness.com wrote an article about the major Chilean winery ‘Cono Sur’. In the article, wine maker Matias Rios tells how alcohol levels are the biggest challenge for their winery to make top quality Pinot noir. Mr. Rios now has a challenge on his hands to reduce alcohol.
When making wine, it is paramount that the wine is in balance. This means that the acidity, the sweetness, the fruit and also the alcohol, is all in harmony with one another. You can find wines of 15% which have no hint of alcohol or heat on the nose, because they are well-balanced. On the contrary, you can find 12% wines which smell like methylated spirit. The challenge at Cono Sur is particular because Pinot Noir does not have the big body of say, Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon which has enough structure to support heady-alcohol flavours.
From a style point of view, high alcohol, full-bodied styles are very popular, but the question is what will happen if alcohol content continues to rise in the future, or if fashion returns back to less boozy more elegant styles? If and when this time comes, wine makers will be looking for advice from such producers as Cono Sur.
By Wine In Madrid
Brazil is renowned for many things; football, beaches, statues of Jesus and a booming economy. Wine rarely makes it to the shortlist. “It’s too hot” they might say… “It’s too humid” they might assume.
But, Miolo, Quinta do Seival, 2004 may just prove the critics wrong.
Quinta Do Seival is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheira and Touriga Roriz. The first two varieties being native Portuguese vines, while the latter is Portuguese for Tempranillo. It is aged for 10 months in new french oak and has a post-fermentation maceration period of 20 days. ABV 13.5%.
Quinta Do Seival is produced in the southern region of Fronteira (formally Campahna) close to the Uruguay border. The region has lower rainfall, better draining soils and longer sunshine hours compared to other regions in Brazil.
In the glass you can see the age from the medium body and slightly clay-like appearance.
On the nose it has an abundance of perfume: oak, leather, tobacco combined with wonderful and complex notes of dried fruit . In the mouth it is clean with a small bite from the tannins. I found there was some bitterness in the aftertaste, but this calmed down a little as the wine opened up.
Overall a good wine and certainly something new for most consumers. After trying the wine, you may be left to ponder the question: Can I buy a Chilean or Argentinian of the same quality- for less? The answer would most likely be yes. However, Quinta Do Seival is a savoury, complex, medium bodied wine, and this offers a change for many drinkers from full-bodied, fruit powered heavy weights. That said, on a continent as vast as South America, perhaps these comparisons should be kept to a minimum.
With plenty of publicity currently flowing in the direction of BRIC Countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and especially China and Brazil in the wine industry, it looks like exports of their wines will start to be more and more commonplace.
Despite wine production not being a new phenomenon in either country, with the current economic state of europe, combined with a booming middle class and increased investment in the industry, has seen an explosion of press as if both countries started to make wine last week.
If you fancy trying Quinta Do Seival it is available at LAVINIA: Retailing at 9.99€ (approx)
Calle de Jose Ortega y Gasset, 16, Madrid (Metro: Serrano/ Valazquez/ Nuñez de Balbao)
In the UK it is available from BIBENDUM
By Wine in Madrid
Despite being the“Star Grape”of most wine critics, Riesling and in particular; German Riesling, is at the bottom of most consumers’ shopping lists, if there at all.
Nonetheless, this wonderfully aromatic, dry, medium, sweet, chameleon of a grape has tons to offer the world…
None more so than Loosen Bro’s DR. L Riesling 2011. Hailing from the Middle Mosel in Germany, where the steep slate, mineral rich, volcanic soils meet the Mosel River. The First thing to note about this wine is the alcohol content of 8.5%, although the same strength as many Belgian beers, it is not to be disregarded.
The appearance is very pale and straw-like, however the nose of full of apples, pears and tiny touches of petrol. In the mouth it is clean, light and delicate with an incredible balance between acidity and sweetness.
The obvious food matching would be something with a kick and a nice bit of spice. We tried it with chicken livers which was surprisingly good as it balanced with the slight bitterness of the livers.
In a world divided between gooseberries and elderflowers, and Plain-Jane-Pinots, this light well balanced gem is well worth a try.
Dr. L Riesling 2011 is available at Lavinia, Retailing at 8.70€ (approx) Calle de Jose Ortega y Gasset, 16, Madrid
(Metro: Serrano/ Valazquez/ Nuñez de Balbao)
by: Wine in Madrid