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US Winemakers Seek To Reduce Alcohol Content
The Telegraph (UK) ^ | 1-11-2008 | Tom Leonard

Posted on 01/10/2008 7:20:53 PM PST by blam

US winemakers seek to reduce alcohol content

By Tom Leonard, in New York
Last Updated: 2:47am GMT 11/01/2008

Winemakers in California are attempting to reduce the alcohol level in their notoriously powerful reds and whites.

Californian "monster" wines regularly contain 15% vol alcohol and some are as high as 17%, alarming some of their own producers despite the praise of critics.

The winemakers have responded by picking grapes earlier and employing other tactics designed to produce the more "balanced", lower alcohol wines that are popular in Europe.

They say the move has in part been prompted by demand from American restaurants, which often hire European-trained sommeliers who want lighter wines.

Adam Tolmach, one of the state's most celebrated winemakers, said that, at 15% or higher, the alcohol content of his wines was too high.

Mr Tolmach, who has produced Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines from his Ojai vineyard since 1983, admitted they had become so powerful he had stopped drinking them.

He told the Los Angeles Times: "We lost our rudder when we went for ever bolder, riper flavours. We have to do the right thing."

He is far from alone. Joe Davis, the owner of the Arcadian Winery, told the newspaper: "Take any 20 winemakers and they are all thinking about alcohol levels." Ray Coursen, a Napa Valley winemaker, said it was "very easy" to make wines of up to 16.4%

He said it was impossible for two people to share a bottle over dinner as the wines overwhelmed the meal.

Mr Tolmach and some of his peers have blamed the lurch into ever stronger wines on a desire to earn the praise of Robert Parker, America's most influential wine critic.

Parker and other critics have showered compliments on Mr Tolmach's beefy wines, making the latter's decision to change direction a particularly brave one, said rivals.

Critics complain that wine drinkers rarely pay any attention to the alcohol level in the bottle they are consuming.

California is the fourth biggest wine-making area in the world, after France, Spain and Italy. As in Australia, Californian wines tend to be stronger because they are produced in a hotter climate.

Trying to limit alcohol content while retaining flavour is an increasingly major challenge for wine producers as the effects of climate change become more marked.

Even in France, the average Bordeaux's alcohol content has grown slightly, up from 12.5% to 13%.

British retailers are starting to show signs of a backlash against high alcohol wine.

Last year, Sue Daniels, Marks and Spencer's wine technologist, said the company would be trying to find more 12% wines in future.


TOPICS: Food
KEYWORDS: alcohol; cisco; content; maddog; neoprohibition; nighttrain; thunderbird; us; winemakers

1 posted on 01/10/2008 7:20:55 PM PST by blam
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To: blam

Makes sense, the less alcohol the more wine you have to drink, that means you have to buy more wine which means more money for the winery... or I’d just switch to tequila and laugh as the winery went out of business.


2 posted on 01/10/2008 7:23:16 PM PST by utherdoul
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To: blam

Say it aint so!


3 posted on 01/10/2008 7:24:25 PM PST by doc1019 (Rabbit and the Hare Fred 08)
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To: blam

To paraphrase Monty Pyton skit, it will be like making love in a canoe.


4 posted on 01/10/2008 7:25:53 PM PST by DTA (Advice to Condi: when you are in a hole, stop digging)
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To: blam

I imagine MD 20-20, Wild Irish Rose, Thunderbird and Night Train Express won’t be affected.


5 posted on 01/10/2008 7:26:21 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee ("A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.")
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To: blam
"Trying to limit alcohol content while retaining flavour is an increasingly major challenge for wine producers as the effects of climate change become more marked."

I wonder what this food critic thinks about his editor slipping that breathtakingly idiotic global warming plug into his wine story.

6 posted on 01/10/2008 7:28:23 PM PST by antinomian (Show me a robber baron and I'll show you a pocket full of senators.)
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To: blam

Personally I don’t drink period, but it’s interesting to note the article is really about the European taste, thus their market, and Globull Warming. I find it “verrrrrry interesting, but shtoopid”.

If memory serves me, the California wines have been walking away with award after award in European Wine evaluations/contests if you will. If something works, why fix it?


7 posted on 01/10/2008 7:35:30 PM PST by rockinqsranch (Dems, Libs, Socialists...call 'em what you will...They ALL have fairies livin' in their trees.)
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To: blam
Californian "monster" wines regularly contain 15% vol alcohol and some are as high as 17%, alarming some of their own producers despite the praise of critics. >>>>>>>>>>>>

Euwwww! Gross, Effete Americanos with European wine palates? Give me the monster. I am an American, and I can take it.You Euro gurly men can have your reduced pseudo wines!

LOL.

8 posted on 01/10/2008 7:43:01 PM PST by Candor7
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To: Brad from Tennessee
I imagine MD 20-20, Wild Irish Rose, Thunderbird and Night Train Express won’t be affected.

As a former connaisseur of capped wines, I don't think they get within 50 miles of a grape.
9 posted on 01/10/2008 7:51:39 PM PST by Thrownatbirth (.....Iraq Invasion fan since '91.)
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To: Thrownatbirth

I think some of higher priced brands might use a grape concentrate but it may be an artificial grape.


10 posted on 01/10/2008 7:55:43 PM PST by Brad from Tennessee ("A politician can't give you anything he hasn't first stolen from you.")
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To: Brad from Tennessee

I imagine MD 20-20, Wild Irish Rose, Thunderbird and Night Train Express won’t be affected.


Had Mad Dog 20-20 once. Couldn’t look at another pint of it....even after my eyesight came back.


11 posted on 01/10/2008 7:57:10 PM PST by o-n-money
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To: Thrownatbirth

There maybe a Grape Flavored MD 20-20.


12 posted on 01/10/2008 9:07:34 PM PST by weegee (Those who surrender personal liberty to lower global temperatures will receive neither.)
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To: utherdoul

“Makes sense, the less alcohol the more wine you have to drink, that means you have to buy more wine which means more money for the winery... or I’d just switch to tequila and laugh as the winery went out of business.”

Yeah, this is defiantly not the consumer complaining about this. It is the retailer and critics that 97% of the wine consumers don’t know or care what they think. I have never bought wine based on alcohol content and can’t even tell you what the content of the wine I have at home.


13 posted on 01/10/2008 10:18:45 PM PST by neb52 (Quid agis, Medice?)
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To: blam
He said it was impossible for two people to share a bottle over dinner as the wines overwhelmed the meal.

Speak for yourself Mac. I can always finish a bottle with my wife if we're at home. She has one glass and I polish off the other 3-1/2, no sweat.

-ccm

14 posted on 01/10/2008 10:51:40 PM PST by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: blam

Just as long as they don’t mess with my Thunderbird.


15 posted on 01/11/2008 1:34:47 AM PST by Rudder
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To: weegee

The WAS a grape MD 20/20 - I lived on the stuff at GWU. You could get the 21% Mad Dog in DC much to the detriment of my GPA.


16 posted on 01/11/2008 2:52:23 AM PST by Thrownatbirth (.....Iraq Invasion fan since '91.)
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To: blam
"He said it was impossible for two people to share a bottle over dinner as the wines overwhelmed the meal."

Utter nonsense. The wines I regularly drink are between 12% and 14%. But some I have laid back are in the 15% - 16%. Excellent with the right meal.

17 posted on 01/11/2008 5:26:25 AM PST by Tainan (Talk is cheap. Silence is golden. All I got is brass...lotsa brass.)
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To: quantim

wine ping


18 posted on 01/11/2008 8:48:50 AM PST by Fractal Trader (.)
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To: blam

Personally, I think California wines generally suck. But, then I’m spoiled on a winery that regularly beats Napa wines when they go head to head.


19 posted on 01/11/2008 8:56:26 AM PST by Lord_Calvinus
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To: blam

http://www.bumwine.com


20 posted on 01/11/2008 9:09:37 AM PST by Slings and Arrows ("Those who surrender personal liberty for lower global temperatures will receive neither."--weegee)
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To: blam
Zoot allors! But, monsieur, zat is how one judges ze quality of ze wine - one reads ze alcohol content from ze label and sniffs ze screwcap. Ah, ze bouquet! I am picking up blackberry, pepper, and just a hint of ze furniture varnish. Ze legs! Ze finish! Ze [sound of BtD falling off his chair]
21 posted on 01/11/2008 9:15:45 AM PST by Billthedrill
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To: blam

I am glad to learn that there is a backlash against high alcohol wines. When I started drinking wine with my dinner, many, many years ago, the alcohol content by volume for quite good French clarets was 11.5%. With the marketing of California wines, the alcohol content went up, way up. Today, even the French (who still make the best clarets in the world) have increased alcohol content to 13.5% Why? Practically speaking, wine with dinner should be enjoyed liberally, but the higher alcohol content makes such enjoyment impossible — unless, of course, you don’t mind falling off your dinner chair and chasing your tie around the floor with your tongue.


22 posted on 01/11/2008 2:17:10 PM PST by Continental Soldier
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