Until a few years ago, whenever someone spoke about Wine the first thing that popped in our minds was France, or at least a French Wine…maybe an Italian one. In the last couple of years that idea has started to delude and many other countries have shown their faces into the Wine World, opening a wide range of options and so now, this Wine World has been divided in two big groups: Old World and New World. But, what are their actual differences?
There are countless differences actually, but we’ll go through (in my humble opinion) the most radical one, so you can get a little bit of perspective about what’s going on around the Wine Globe.
First of all, the Old Wine World refers mainly to France, Italy and Spain. The New one includes the U.S., Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Australia.
The first and probably more noticeable difference between these two is the way they name their wines. While Old World Wines are named after regions (Bordeaux, Champagne, Chablis, Port, Sauternes, etc.), New World Wines are name after varietals or grapes (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay), and the reason is that the Old World countries grow a wide range of different grapes in their vineyards, and then they blend these grapes, so the wine is named after every region and that is what makes them so special. Every region combines a different number and kind of grapes, so they have their own “recipe”. When drinking a Bordeaux for example, you should know that you are probably drinking a blend of 3-5 grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot most likely and in many occasions you won’t even know in which percentages they’ve been blended (damn bastards!).
The New Wine World is making a lot more of 100% varietals named after each grape in which the consumer has a better idea of what he/she is drinking.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but climate is a big one along with marketing. For the New World, making straight varietals is a much better way of competing with the Old World.
Climate associates to the concept of Chaptalization, or in a more understandable language: adding sugar to the wine elaboration. We’ll get in to that one next time. For now all I can say is that Old or New, I better have an open bottle when I get home.