With all my talk recently about alcohol not being anywhere near as important factor in quality wine as overall balance, I asked myself a tough question in the wake of that talk, and I couldn’t come up with a good answer.
When was the last time you’ve had a wine that was over 16% alcohol that seemed balanced?
Personally, I drew a total blank.
There literally isn’t one dry, still wine (non-fortified… Ports for example are definitely not included in this mini-analysis) I can recall that clocked in above 16% abv that on the whole felt compellingly balanced to me.
Anyone? Buehler? Buehler???
Of course, part of the reason for this is likely due to the fact that I just don’t record abv when I review wines… but I might starting doing exactly that, if only for experimental and self-education purposes. And the number of 16%+ abv still wines out there probably isn’t all that large, the majority probably clocking in somewhere between 12% and 15% abv when you’re talking still, dry fine wines. But having said that…
While I’ve also had plenty of juice in the 15%+ range that were great – big wines, no doubt, but also damn good ones - of the wines that I can recall that clocked in somewhere in 16%+ booziness range, none of them were great, balanced offerings. In fact, most of them were way off the mark when it comes to balance; boozy, raisined, overly pruney, and a chore to drink.
So I’m hereby amending my previous diatribe, adding that there may actually be logical limits to balance. And while I won’t ever go on record as saying that great, balanced still wines can’t be made in that abv range, I sure as hell think it makes the job of achieving greatness that much harder.
What about you? Have you had a dry wine over 16% abv that you thought was balanced? Shout ‘em out!