New versus old world wine

by Piers Lewis

You may have heard people commenting on their preference for either old world or new world wine.  What do they mean?

Old world wine is a descriptor for wines from countries or regions where winemaking first originated, such as: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Germany. These places have been making wine for hundreds if not thousands of years.

New world wines come from countries or regions where winemaking is a comparatively recent endeavour, and where the Vitis Vinifera grape used to make wine was imported during exploration. The more famous new world wine regions you may have heard of include: Australia, Chile, Argentina, United States, South Africa, and New Zealand. New world wine regions also include China, India and Japan.

The main difference between old and new world wines come from the winemaking practices and the effects of the specific earth and climate of those regions on the grapes grown. Typically, old world wines are generally lighter tasting, have lower alcohol, higher acidity and a less fruity palate.

Meanwhile, new world wines tend to produce a riper wine, higher in alcohol, with less acidity and a richer fruity taste.

At Dawine we offer a range of new and old world wines for you to compare; such as the old world Chateau Trebiac - 2012 Aoc Graves from Bordeaux in France  

and the new world Fox Gordon – By George 2013 Cabernet Tempranillo from South Australia.

However, not all old or new world wines adhere to the description above. Winemakers have become incredibly adept at controlling the effects that climate and soil has on the grapes and the wine produced. Yet if a specific wine was produced in California and then in France using the same winemaking practices, the wines would not be the same. This essential difference stems from the ‘terrior’ of the wine region. Terroir is a French word that describes the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop, including its unique environment, farming practices and the crop's specific growth habitat. 

There are some old world regions where in order to acquire appellation status, such as Bordeaux or Burgundy, a vineyard and winemaker must adhere to strict regulations governing every element of the wine making process.  Appellation status is the categorising of wines by region or sub-region. In old world regions, being allowed to categorise your wine as from a certain region, or appellation, is seen as very prestigious, and is supervised closely as a consequence.  These regulated decisions on pruning, irrigation, selecting a time of harvest, as well as the use of oak, type of yeast, temperature during fermentation, and many others, tend to accentuate a wine’s terrior; and thus create a very specific style for that wine. 

While old world wine countries have been making wine a particular way for centuries, new world wine regions have a distinctive entrepreneurial nature. Winemaking practices are varied and experimentation is encouraged. New world wine also tends to make the most of modern advances in the wine-making process and the results can be astoundingly pleasant and sought-after. 

Whether new world or old world, each style presents the drinker with unique benefits and wonderful produce to enjoy and explore.

Category: Education



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