The alcohol issue has become an abyss. In the most recent flare up, Bob Parker went on a tear, and Jancis Robinson and Alder Yarrow among others responded. But I think the discussion continues to miss the real issue, which is not the merits of low alcohol wine vs. high alcohol wine.The real question, it seems to me is, where in the world are the terroirs that allow grapes to just barely tip the scales into perfect ripeness WITHOUT the next ten dominoes falling and catapulting the wine’s alcohol level skyward?
I think certain places can get ripeness while sidestepping high alcohol. Among them: Rioja; Tuscany; parts of the Rhone; Austria; the Santa Ynez and Santa Maria Valleys; parts of Sonoma; British Columbia; Oregon; parts of Chile; even parts of Australia. And of course, Bordeaux in warm years; Napa Valley in cool ones. More than weather is undoubtedly at work, however, including the complex issue of the efficiency of various yeast strains in converting sugars to alcohol; and the complex role that rootstocks and clones play.
I wish we heard from more winemakers about these things, rather than rehash the elliptical (and pointlessly simplistic) conversation that suggests it’s all just about preference and picking date.