In focus: New Zealand’s lighter wine movement

24th August, 2020 by Edith Hancock

A handful of winemakers in New Zealand have cracked the code on making lower-ABV wines that taste like their stronger counterparts. Edith Hancock finds out how they did it, and what’s next.

Canopy management is key to making lighter alcohol wines

John forrest, the proprietor of Marlborough’s Forrest Wines, likes Sauvignon Blanc. He really likes it. He’d like to be able to walk into his local and order a pint of it. “Then we could have fair rounds,” he half jokes over the phone.

We’re not talking about full-fat, 14% ABV wine, thankfully. Forrest has dedicated the past 15 years of his viticultural career to making wines that sit around the 9.5% ABV mark, and produces a range called The Doctors’; a play on one of his favourite Austrian brands, Dr Loosen. Since launching The Doctors’ in 2006, and rolling it out in the UK last year, Forrest now believes he’s not that far away from producing something closer to beer in terms of strength, with no impact on the taste. “Why wouldn’t you want a 4.5% Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that actually tastes like a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc?” he asks.


Changing tastes


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