Perfect For Summertime: Lower Alcohol, Bigger Flavor

Consider this: 15% is now commonplace in California reds. (Heck, I recently tasted a sample of a red table wine that was 16.5%!) As compared to a wine that has 12% ABV (which was the norm decades ago,) you are putting 20% less alcohol into your body. Not only that, wines that are coming in under 13.5% are almost always the result of intentional winemaking, which also often means organic/biodynamic farming, so fewer chemicals and preservatives. These factor have an immediate impact on how you feel - for the better. It's like enjoying the invigorating sensation of quality sushi instead of a heavy pasta with meat sauce.

So, lately my request of retailers is to help me find dry red wines I can see through. Translucence isn't a perfect indicator, but does serve as a bit of shorthand for lighter density wines, which also tend to be lower in alcohol, higher in acidity, and much kinder on the body. Some grapes lend themselves to yielding wines in this profile, but just as important is where they're grown. The most successful combination of grape and place results in a grape that matures on the early side (so that sugars don't get out of hand) in a climate that's cool enough for the variety to fully mature. Schiava grown in Alto Adige is usually a safe bet. Pais grown in Chile is another. And then there are all sorts of places where growers and vintners usually have the option to make more restrained versions of the typical - Valpolicella, Beaujolais, and so on.

Today's wine, the 2021 Via Revolucionaria Criolla Grande Uco Valley $15 is terrific example. Clocking in at just 11.5% and made from the criolla grande grape (referred to as pais across the border in Chile,) my notes are sparse simply because the wine disappeared so fast. It's a brilliantly-flavored, bright wine that borders on a rosé in terms of color, but the tension and grip thanks to its acidity makes it magically taut and food friendly. Sourced from a single vineyard at 3,450 feet in alluvial, rocky soils and fermented with native yeasts before being aged for 5 short months in concrete. Amazing, especially at this price. 93 points (Purchased)