Enjoyment Series: Old vs. New – part 1 of ?

In this addition to my Enjoyment blog series, I’d like to present my feelings on Old World vs New World wines, because, to me, they are to be enjoyed differently, since they are made differently and express the grape and place of origin differently.

Also, deciding where we want to position Moseley Family Cellars in the continuum between “old world” (OW) and “new world” (NW) wines is a big decision for us. It’s part of our unique viewpoint and positioning in the midst of our other northern CA winery friends.

So, what do people in the world of winemaking mean by OW and NW wines? Let me begin this multi-part series by introducing the following “grid” by which we’ll compare the two different universes of wine. In this first blog entry, I’ll begin by explain the dimensions of the grid (you can see my technology roots breaking through – sorry!):

  • Regulatory Controls – the legal, stylistic, and regulatory controls a country may use to govern how wines are made and blended into final products. They vary widely by country and continent.
  • Growing Style – how the vines are planted, grown, watered, fed, pruned and maintained. How grapes are produced and controlled. Some countries have very different styles of how they grow their grapes.
  • Harvesting Style – how/when the grapes are harvested; at what levels of sugar, acid and phenolic maturity (color). OW and NW wines vary widely on this point.
  • Winemaking Style – how wines are made from the grapes; how they are treated, manipulated, fermented, treated, settled, aged, etc.
  • Wine Style – the kinds of wines that result in each style class. OW wines can be described as “wines of place” or Vins de Terroir. These wines express the land, weather and ecosystem (the terroir) where the wine was grown (yes, the wine was grown, not only the grapes)! NW wines can be described as Vins d’effort. These wines show off the processing skills of the winemaker, where they’ve manipulated the wines to downplay or remove any faults and enhance their best qualities. This, along with Harvesting Style, mark the second biggest differences in OW and NW wines.
  • Enjoyment Style – how the wines are meant to be enjoyed, and how they are best enjoyed. If you compare the same basic blend from an OW and a NW winery, you would taste distinct differences.
  • Location – ok, OW might as well be synonymous with “Europe” and NW might as well be synonymous with “U.S., Australia, S. Africa and S. America” or RoW (Rest of World).

Disclaimer: To be treated fairly, this would be a semester-long college course and cannot be covered except for in the broadest strokes here. I’m sure many other wine lovers, winemakers, distributors, owners, and connoisseurs will have plenty to add or correct, and we welcome your input, suggestions, and references to other more scholarly and complete works on the topic!

Next blog will break the differences down in a table so it’s easier to compare and contrast.

Until next time, To Syrah with Love!