26 September 2023

Lower-alcohol bubbles

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By Christine Salins.


The trend to lower alcohol wines is gathering pace as consumers moderate their drinking habits. Similarly, there’s a growing trend towards organic wines.

The Natural Wine Co. fits the bill on both counts with its innovative Lightly Sparkling wines from Canowindra in the Central Ranges region of New South Wales.

The wines, a white and a Rosé, are preservative-free, organic, vegan, and each has an alcohol content of just 8%.

Jason O’Dea has spent nearly three years on bringing the wines to market. “A few years ago, we were successful in receiving support from Wine Australia, with the subsequent research highlighting the growing demand for these types of wines,” he said.

O’Dea has a 20-year history of growing organic grapes so that was the easy part. More difficult was the challenge of producing bubbles with lower alcohol without sacrificing flavour.

Research was conducted over several vintages, with winemaker Anthony D’Onise making small parcels of wine according to various techniques until they were happy with the results.

He is coy on the exact method used but will admit that it uses some aspects of ripasso, a double fermentation technique that produces a medium-bodied, fruity wine with good complexity.

“The initial inspiration was from my father who told of Italian wine bars where the owners would produce low alcohol wines called ‘La Graspia’, using these methods, made for the local ‘Contadino’. These wines were somewhat unsophisticated, so we have combined these with more modern techniques to create these wines.”

While there aren’t many wines of this kind in the market, feedback has been positive and O’Dea sees a good future ahead.

“They allow people to ‘stay longer’,” he said. “The wines are perfect for those looking to lower the amount of alcohol they are consuming, or simply for those wanting a refreshing, enjoyable wine with a touch of fizz.”

More information: www.thenaturalwineco.com.au

The Natural Wine Co. 2021 Lightly Sparkling White, $20: This is the second vintage of this lightly spritzed Chardonnay and it’s a really pleasing, refreshing drop. It’s zesty and fruity with pear and stonefruit notes, but it’s not sweet. Rather, it has a nicely balanced acidity that makes it the perfect go-to wine when you want to celebrate while going easy on the alcohol.

The Natural Wine Co. 2021 Lightly Sparkling Rosé, $20: Also lightly spritzed, this gorgeous light pink Rosé is made from Sangiovese. It has enticing raspberry, apple and cherry notes, with a touch of lemon/lime. A great option for anyone seeking a lower alcohol Rosé without the sweetness you might expect.

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