News and views | More wines under 12.5%

News and views

More wines under 12.5%

As I mentioned in my Guardian column this week the Government has been putting pressure on the drinks industry to reduce the strength of house wines to below 12.5%. Frankly I think that’s more likely to make people spend more on their wine rather than drink less but it’s true that wines have got progressively higher in alcohol particularly from regions like Bordeaux where reds now regularly clock in at 14%. I certainly prefer to drink wines below that myself.

The wines to look out for are inexpensive French and Italian whites and rosés - many French Sauvignons are under 12.5% - Vinho Verde from Portugal, English whites and rosés, sparkling wines (both Cava and prosecco are regularly under 12%) and riesling.

I got a bit of flak for not making more of a feature of German riesling which is of course one of the most modest wines in alcohol but I think most people - including the Germans themselves - are looking for drier wines for their day to day drinking. When I was in southern Germany last August many of the whites I was tasting were over 13%.

I also didn’t mention Hunter Valley Semillon which regularly gets name-checked in these kind of features but they’re obviously a good bet at 10-11%. There’s one below.

Anyway I promised some more recommendations apart from those you’ll find in the Guardian article so here they are - in note form I’m afraid as I'm on holiday at the moment. I also haven’t had a chance to check the prices - this is what they were when I tasted them.


El Riquelme Chilean Malbec 2012 12% £4 soft ripe easy drinking more Merlot-like than Cab. Fantastic buy at this price. Chilean reds at this ABV are rare

McGuigan Hunter Valley Semillon Bin 9000 2007 11% £12.97 Asda rich toasty classic Hunter Valley Semillon - could even do with a bit more ageing.

Marks & Spencer
M & S seems to have made a policy of keeping the alcohol in its wines down so has a wider selection than most

Loretto Sangiovese Rubicone 12% £6.49 100% Sangiovese. Nice soft supple Italian red. Ideal pizza/pasta wine

Mayne de Beauregard Bergerac Blanc 2013 12% £7.99 soft, appealing, fruity, with more tropical (kiwi, pineapple) flavours than Sauvignon. Perfect for summer salads.

Tapada de Vilar Vinho Verde 2013 £7.99 10.5% Crisp, dry quite spritzy

Alaia Txakoli 2013 10.5% £11.99 bright, sharp, lemony, zesty - the kind of wine to drink with grilled sardines or mackerel

Sol Lucet Koshu 2013 £12.99 11.5% 70 stores Highly unusual Japanese wine. Very lean, dry - ideal for sashimi or sushi

Le Clos Sainte Odile Obernai Riesling 2011 £13.99 12% Cave de Beblenheim made by Patrick le Bastard (cheap snigger) - pretty, fragrant, just off-dry. Would be great for Asian food.


Morrisons Gavi 11.5% £5.99 Smooth, dry, very decent for the price.

Vouvray La Couronne des Plantagenets 2013 11.5% £7 Morrisons delicate, citrussy, with a touch of honey.

Morrisons Sancerre Rosé 2013 12% £10.99
Sancerre rosé seldom comes cheap but this isn’t at all a bad price for this delicate pretty wild strawberry-flavoured rosé


Winemakers Selection Gavi 2013 11.5% £6.50 smooth, creamy round, fuller than you’d think from the ABV

Taste the Difference Awatere Valley Riesling 2013, New Zealand 11.5% £8.50 Not totally dry but tastes fruity rather than sweet. One for spicy Asian salads and noodle dishes.

Chateau le Bernet Graves 2013 12% £9 elegant white Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon, Semillon and Muscadelle


Tim Adams Protégé Clare Valley Riesling 2010 £57 per case = £9.50 per bottle 6.8g 12% Crisp, limey, zesty Aussie riesling

Tesco Finest Vinho Verde 2013 £7.49 11.5% mineral, fresh, citrussy


Luis Felipe Edwards Bin Series Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Central Valley 12% £7.99 Richly textured with a nice hit of grapefruit peel

Seifried Estate Gruner Veltliner 12% £11.99 very full-on lush version of this Austrian grape variety. Delicious though note only available in 60 branches.


Edalo Bianco 2013 Contreras Ruiz 100% Zalema 11.5% £10.99
Deliciously fresh, crisp, summery - unusually light for a Spanish white.

Wine Society

2013 Blind Spot Clare Valley Riesling 12% £7.95 crisp, bright green apple and lime flavours. Classic Clare riesling.

Hilltop Corvinus Hungarian red 12% £6.50 immensely appealing summery blend of Kekfrankos and Merlot. Perfect for grilled lamb or chicken with herbs.

There are also a fair number of Aldi - and I'm sure, Lidl - wines to add to this list so keep checking back.

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