Le Petit Balthazar Merlot, 2020, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
£17.65 (inc VAT)
Intense dark fruits and liquorice aren’t perhaps what you’d expect from a low-alcohol, low-calorie red, but that’s what you’ve got here. The merlot grapes are picked in September, when they’re ripe from a full summer, so the flavours are all there - but the grapes have been specially selected to have low alcohol potential. Full flavours with no headaches. Balthazar was a very wise man indeed.
Pierrick Harang doesn’t have a family châteaux, or acres of inherited vineyard. What he does have is a top-quality pedigree as a winemaker (the fifth generation of his family to be able to make that boast). His Le Petit Balthazar range is low-alcohol wine with a difference. No de-alcoholisation to muck up the flavours here, instead just smart science and a LOT of wine knowledge: growing grapes with low alcohol potential even when they’re ripe.