ALISTAIR GIBSON: Some of today’s wines have serious balancing issues

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There is a little doubt the fact that over the past few decades alcohol levels in wines have generally risen.

However, table wines used to hover around 12 per cent even in wines from regions such as Bordeaux or the Rhone Valley.

The Wine Society  24th February 2015

The Wine Society 24th February 2015

The norm now would certainly be more than 13 per cent and if you scanned a supermarket wine shelf today there would be many wines hovering around the 14 or 14.5 per cent level.

It’s not unusual any more to find wine at 15 per cent, that is bordering on fortified wine territory.

Wine is all about balance.

To my mind as long as the alcohol is in balance with the other components of fruit, acidity, tannin, sweetness and concentration then it’s not a problem.

Having said that my own personal tastes as I have got older are for lighter wines.

I used to have a cellar full of big, powerful Australian-style shiraz, but now I would rather look for a wine that perhaps has a little more drinkability over the course of a meal.

So here are three wines all less than 13 per cent which still manage to offer great flavour.

The Society’s Chianti Rûfina 2013 (thewinesociety.com £8.50, pictured right,) is 12.5 per cent.

If you would like an introductory level Chianti this is exactly the sort of drinkable red wine that you could spend a long Sunday lunch over. What I really like about this wine is its freshness and lovely cherry fruit bouquet.

The palate is quite soft with just enough tannic grip and a little sourness on the finish which is typical of the grape.

Beaujolais is a region in which to look for lighter reds and Beaujolais-Villages Chapelle aux Loups 2015, Louis Jadot (Waitrose £11.99) which is 12.5 per cent, is a step up in quality compared to many wines labelled as Beaujolais- Villages. 2015 was an exceptional vintage in the region.

This is all about the juicy dark fruits including cherry and raspberry. But there is also some nice structure on the palate to make it quite a serious wine which may improve given a few years in the bottle.

My top tipple this week is The Society’s Australian Chardonnay 2016, Adelaide (thewinesociety.com £6.95, pictured left,) which is 12.5 per cent and reminds me just why we all fell in love with Aussie chardonnay in the first place.

It’s wonderful fresh, uncomplicated, un-oaked wine that literally leaps out of the bottle.