JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

WINES OF THE WEEK FOR SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2007

Splendid Wines with low Alcohol:

Not to repeat what so many others have already said, but it is widely apparent that increasing numbers of wines out there are boasting higher alcohol levels than ever before.

The reasons for this (?): Consumer preference? Global warming? Better (or worse) winemaking techniques?

For my part, I do believe there does exist too much alcohol in many wines I have tried. This, of course, is not to suggest that only wines with moderate amounts of alcohol are ones of notable quality; only that a specific wine in question ought to be able to 'handle' the amount of alcohol it contains.

And so, this week I am happy to offer wine enthusiasts a few suggestions on a couple of wines that are not overly-dosed in alcohol.

RED WINES

(1) Château Chambeau
      -Blend
      -Lussac-Saint-Emilion,
       Bordeaux, France
      -Vintage 2000
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $24.95
       (available in many
       Vintages outlets)
      -
L.C.B.O. # 43711
      -8.25/10



COMMENT: Made from 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine 'weighs in' at 12% alc./vol. --- not bad at all, in my opinion. More reserved than one might expect of a claret seven years old (from vintage), I found this wine more earthy and concentrated than overly fruity or silky. A wine probably best left to more experienced drinkers, I suspect, but highly worth seeking. And you can enjoy more than just a glass before a headache sets in!

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Roasted whole chicken with lemon and onions (the contrast will go nicely) --- enjoy!

(2) Salcheto
      -Blend
      -Chianti Colli Senesi,
       Tuscany, Italy

      -Vintage 2004
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -PRICE: $20.55
       (available through
       Hobbs & Co. [agency])

      -8.25/10



COMMENT: Made from the traditional Tuscan grapes of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, and Mammolo (and carrying 12.5% alc./vol.), this is a lovely, high-quality Chianti, derived from the Colli Senesi 'satellite' subregion of the Chianti zone. Somewhat tight when I first tasted it, this wine boasts beautiful cherries and a wonderfully soft mouthfeel. For the quality and price, this is a terrific item (in my own cellar, I only have a few bottles left).

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Pasta with ragu --- enjoy!

 

(1) Reinhold Haart
      -Piesporter, Mosel, Germany
      -
Riesling Kabinett QmP
      -Vintage 2003
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $21.95
      -L.C.B.O. # 727461
       (available at most larger
       L.C.B.O. outlets)
      -8.25/10




COMMENT: At only 8.5% alc./vol., it would be very hard to find a more flavourful off-dry white (that is, one with even less alcohol) than this. Incredibly refreshing, this Reisling 'Kabinett' (which means ripe grapes of a normal harvest that have not been supplemented with sugar) is best noted for its subtle fruit, steely undertone, and overall vigour. If you have not tried a good German Riesling lately, this is probably one of the best wines to start back on the wagon, made by one of the best-value houses in the region!

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Garlic shrimp (or lobster) --- enjoy!

(2) Domaine Huet
      -'Le Haut-Lieu' Sec (Dry)
      -Vouvray, Loire, France
      -Chenin Blanc

       (grape varietal)
      -Vintage 2005
       (Drink Now or Hold)
      -L.C.B.O. PRICE: $28.95
       (available in just a few stores
       within L.C.B.O. system)
      -L.C.B.O. # 705764
      -8.5/10




COMMENT: From one of the most highly-regarded estates in the Loire winegrowing region of France, Domaine Huet specializes in making wines from the underrated Chenin Blanc grape varietal. At only 12.2% alc./vol., a few glasses of this at home after a long day is, in my opinion, a good mark of a thoughtful imbiber. Tight at present, this wine shows light-tropical notes, with a small hint of cream. Not a simple wine, it needs time (Vouvray can age for twenty years).

PAIRING SUGGESTION: Salted cheese (once again, superb contrast) --- enjoy!

ANY QUESTIONS?

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