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LETTERS

Downsizing the alcohol in 'big' wines

January 16, 2008

HURRAY for Adam Tolmach ["A Bold Move for Subtlety," by Corie Brown, Jan. 9]. His decision will please California wine lovers, at least those with whom I enjoy drinking wine. For several years we've visited the wineries of Santa Barbara area and Paso Robles. With each year, the reds have become bigger, jammier -- and more likely to produce a pounding headache. Some of us have taken to reading the alcohol content before buying a California red. The next time I'm shopping for wine, it will be Tolmach's that I look for.

Linda Jurewitz

Claremont

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THANKS for your insightful article on California wine. I agree with Mr. Tolmach that wines in California have become (in general) too big and alcoholic. I have had quite a few disappointing wines (that were highly rated), because the alcohol level was too high. I now tend to buy French and Italian wines, despite living in California.

I also look at the labels more and will not buy anything over 14.5% alcohol. I hope more California wineries follow Mr. Tolmach's path!

Ken Luker

Santa Monica

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MY girlfriend and I returned from a year's stay in Italy, where we enjoyed many wines with 12.5% to 13.5% alcohol. They were traditionally made and tasted wonderful. Mr. Tolmach is right when he says that "it is possible to retain rich flavors without sending alcohols soaring." Let us return to what he calls a "sense of balance." I will certainly buy such wines.

Reynold Dacon

Santa Monica

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YOUR article about Tolmach trying to achieve balanced wines is very encouraging. It is time that California wine industry stopped catering to the "wine 101" domestic wine drinkers and educate the general consumer to a more mature level.

Our warm, sunny climate produces rapid conversion of acids to sugars, and one can easily end up with high-sugar, high-alcohol wines. Fortunately, as consumer taste is maturing, the industry will (hopefully) start fine-tuning the science and art of making wine in California.

Tolmach et al. may just be the catalysts for this change. In the meantime, thanks to the French (and Chilean) imports for providing the direction.

Farooq Iftikhar

San Clemente

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