Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wine Blog Wednesday #22

Today is Wine Blog Wednesday and the theme for the popular 22nd virtual wine tasting event, will be light alcohol red wines. This month, WBW is hosted by Tim from Winecast. It has been pointed out that modern methods of winemaking have created high alcohol wines. While it is easy to point the finger at the winemaker, others point the finger at the wine critics. It is the critics whose palates want those concentrated ripe fruit flavors. To accomplish this the fruit needs to stay on the vine longer. As you know, when sugar levels are high in the grapes these sugars are converted into alcohol, and voila - high alcohol wines! However, so the high alcohol level cannot be so obvious, it is important that the wines are balanced with tannins and the right acidity.

So my task is that I am to find and taste a red wine that does not exceed 12.5% in alcohol. In the Walla Walla Valley most of our red wines are at an average of 14%. Since I feature mostly Walla Walla Valley wines, my quest was to find such a wine.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!!!!! In Walla Walla?

Actually, I did find a library wine from Lecole No. #41 that is still available for purchase. It is a 1996 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The history of 1996 was a season that the Washington State wine industry had not experienced before. For the first time in 30 years, an Artic freeze hit the area in February, so there was no pruning done. The year also brought lower than average heat units, as well as earlier than normal harvest with limited crop loads. This particular wine was produced with several premium vineyards in Washington state. The average brix was 23.5 which created 12.8% alcohol by volume. I have tasted this wine, but it has been about 5 years ago. It is not quite at 12.5%, but it may be the closest thing we can find in this valley.

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