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November 17, 2022

Low Alcohol Reds for Thanksgiving

A recent reader’s inquiry sent Lettie Teague on a journey to find red wines below 13% alcohol by volume. Along the way, she spotlighted the soulful Lomda dos Ares from Curro Bareño and Jesús Olivares of Fedellos. You can learn about her search and the wines she found in the Wall Street Journal.

Lettie remarks, “The fact that it took time to find the wines wasn’t surprising. Red wines that were reliably 12-13% ABV a couple of decades ago now more commonly sport numbers between 14% and 14.5%.”

Indeed, shifts in taste and increasing global temperature have made it more challenging to craft red wines with alcohol levels below 13% without sacrificing ripeness. But through hard work, it is still quite possible, even in some surprisingly “warm” regions. So inspired by Lettie’s quest, here are a few additional red wines in our portfolio that are below even 12.5%:


2022 Recommendations

Two Canaries in Hand and Something about a Bush Vine…

Rayco Fernandez’s projects in the Canary Islands, Rofe on Lanzarote and Bimbache on El Hierro produce red wines below 12.5%. The Bimbache Tinto comes from the south and semi-arid side of El Hierro and is a field blend of Listán Negro, Vijariego Negro, and Listán Prieto. It is a wildly aromatic red with notes of fresh herbs and brambly red fruit flavors. In contrast, Rofe Tinto can be mistaken for nothing other than a volcanic red. Entirely Listán Negro it is floral and profoundly mineral with delicate berry flavors.

Valencia Rising

If you’ve ever been to the hinterlands of Valencia, you would think that this would be the least likely home for low-alcohol reds. But, naturally, you’d also be mistaken. Pablo Calatayud of Celler del Roure is not only the man almost solely responsible for rescuing the obscure Mandó grape variety but also makes his amphora-aged red wines below 13%. Vermell, a blend of Garnacha Tintorera, Mandó, and Arcos, is an elegant dance between red fruit and angelica that makes it dangerously easy to drink. Safrà, a blend of Mandó and Arcos, is a touch more stoic, expressed through flavors of ripe pie cherries, a hint of spice, and precise but smooth tannins.

Roots Returning

While Mediterranean France is noted for its robust reds, that doesn’t mean it is only a one-trick pony. Jean-Marc Lafage and Eric Solomon teamed up to create La Rétro – a wine inspired by the everyday red wines his father and grandfather made for drinking at home. A blend of Grenache Noir & Gris, Carignan, and Lladoner, it comes from vineyards in the interior of the Roussillon that are tardy in their ripening and always come in below 13%. It is quaffable, fun, and comes in a liter bottle so you can share it with friends and family.

– by Steven Spanbauer, and no, that Turkey wasn’t overcooked; it was brined and had the Robaina family seal of approval