Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Old World vs New World Wines

Old World includes countries that have been making wine for ages, and is basically most of the European countries: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, etc. These have been making wine for much longer than other countries, especially France, whose wines have been copied/replicated for years.

So, which countries do we find in the New World? Basically wine producing regions that came later to quality winemaking. Later, meaning starting in 1960’s and forward: US (CA, OR, WA, NY, etc), Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay.

Besides this geographical distinction, Old World vs New World wines mean different things regarding wine style, affecting the basic elements in a wine: alcohol, body, fruit, acidity, sweetness and tannins.

Old World will usually mean wines with medium to high alcohol, wines with lighter to medium bodies (with some exceptions), wines with high acidity (and a better match for food). Wines will show fewer oak notes and usually will feature non fruity flavors such as leather, herbs, ink, earth, vegetal, floral and mineral notes, etc.  These notes/aromatics happen for two reasons: less sun and higher fermentation temperatures.

In the Old world viticulture and vinification is regulated by law, which means that in order to get the seal of quality of any appellation, a lot of rules have to be followed regarding: grape variety allowed, maximum yields, aging if any, minimum and maximum alcohol levels, etc.

New World wines will mean wines with more than 13% alcohol, bodies that are usually big, acidity will tend to be low or balanced. Wines will be very forward, with a lot of oak notes (from new oak barrels) and so much fruit, that jump out of the glass to say hello to you. Viticulture and Vinification is not regulated by law, so winemakers are free to grow whatever grapes they want, and enjoy a lot of freedom regarding the wine they want to make. These wines are better drunk on their own or with food as big as they are. Their limitations will be more regarding to climate. Let’s face it, certain grapes prefer warmer climates than others, and sometimes the choice of grape is just a commercial one, some sell better than others.

Fermentations in the New World happen at lower temperatures to preserve the fruit aromatics of these wines. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules and let’s not forget about global warming and vintages… the weather of one year can be better or worse than the weather of the following year, and that can affect ripeness. In future issues of my newsletter, I will recommend wines  for you to taste these differences within the same variety.

But February is the month of Valentine’s Day, so I decided to recommend a few wines for this holiday to share with people you care!

French Champagnes: Pol Roger NV (my favorite) $45, Pol Roger Rich NV $60 (off dry and a better match for chocolates)
Veuve Clicquot NV $50
Roederer Estate NV, $25 (CA)
Zonin Prosecco NV, $15
Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvee “Les Amours” 2014 $15
Veramonte Pinot Noir 2015 (Casablanca, Chile) $12
El Coto de Rioja “Imaz” Reserva 2013 $20
Ravenswood Zinfandel Old Vines 2015 $10
Ports to match with chocolates:
Sandeman Fine Ruby Port $ 17
Fonseca Finest Reserve Bin 27 Port $16
Taylor Fladgate LBV 2012 $20

Cheers! Santé, Salud