What’s The Deal
If you look at industry trends the category defined as “low-alcohol beverages” has been go gang-busters for the past few years. Marketed primarily at women, they offer the one-two combo of lower alcohol and less calories and while they’ve been a hit with many consumers, they've yet to achieve much critical praise.
The main reason for this is that they suck, critically speaking. To be fair, their primary goal is to deliver satisfaction sans sugar and alcohol and they do that….satisfactorily. Ask a wine nerd for a low-alcohol wine and they’ll point you towards a 9% Riesling (although you’ll get plenty of residual sugar there) or maybe a Portuguese Vinho Verde at 10% or so. Both can be wonderful wines in a way that Skinnygirl Pinot Noir will never, ever, be.
But this bottle, from New Zealand behemoth Stoneleigh offers a ray of hope: it’s the first low-alcohol offering I’ve ever had that is worthy of a positive review.
What’s in the Bottle
Grapefruit. At least that what the first, second and third notes I get when I swirl it around in my mouth. Of the citrus fruits, grapefruit is one of the least common because it can be a dominating force and it certainly is here, but in a good way. There's some secondary notes of wild strawberry and maybe ripe plum but let's not get carried away—this isn't an endlessly complex wine. It's pretty simple, but it executes well.
Weirdly Stoneleigh doesn't even list this wine on their website, nor can I find what grapes go into this wine, but I'm willing to overlook these two warning sides to avoid getting hammered.
Should I Buy
Well, if you’ve been skeptical of the low-alcohol crowd, then this is a baby step to see if it’s for you. Lifestyle wise, less alcohol is always better and I can attest to the desire to top my glass up and extra splash or two when it’s patio season and rosé is on offer, so doing so at 9% provides a nice buffer. And it’s well-priced, lower than most of its NZ brethren, and it frequently goes on sale at the BCLDB. So, yes, give it a whirl.