DWWA 2011: Low alcohol stars

With just over a month to go until the prestigious DWWA International Trophies are announced on 7 September, this is the first in a series of articles giving you the inside track on this year's awards, with data and insights on what's hot in 2011.

Australian panel co-chairs Michael Hill Smith MW & Anthony Rose between flights

Picture: Australian panel co-chairs Michael Hill Smith MW & Anthony Rose between flights

One of the key trends in the wine world in the past 18 months has been the increasing interest in lower alcohol wines. We’re more conscious of our alcohol intake than ever before but low alcohol wines often don’t taste nearly as good as their more alcoholic counterparts.

Australia has taken its fair share of criticism when it comes to highly alcoholic wines so it might come as a surprise that the four best low-alcohol wines in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards come from Down Under.

The Hunter Valley’s naturally low alcohol Semillons took three of the top four spots including McWilliams Mount Pleasant Cellar Release Elizabeth Semillon 2006, Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 1999 and Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Semillon 2006.

The region’s humidity and cloud cover keep alcohols lower than you’d expect in this hot region. Early picking is also key to producing this naturally low alcohol, high acid style.

However, it is not a Hunter Valley wine that has taken the top low alcohol spot in the Awards; it is a sub-£10 Tesco wine from Western Australia. Tingleup Vineyard’s Riesling, Great Southern, 2010 at 11% alcohol gets our vote. All the flavour with nothing taken out.

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