The biddies take another look at new world vs. old world wine and discuss if the classification is really all that useful anymore! Of note, since our first look, a new term ‘Ancient World wine’ has been gaining more traction, so tune in to find out what it’s all about. We also take a look at some old world grape varieties that went big in the new world!
*This is a re-recorded version of Episode 8 – Old World Vs. New World for better audio quality and some updated information!
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Vivino, “Northern vs. Southern Hemisphere Wines”
WTSO From the Vine, “Vineyards on the Other Side of The World”
Wine Review Online, “The Amazing Wine World Transformers: Southern Hemisphere Wines”
Wine Folly, “The Real Differences Between New World and Old World Wine”Vine Pair, “Six Old World Grapes that Made it Big in the New World”
Please note some of these notes may be directly copied and pasted from above sources.
Study notes for Old World Vs. New World Vs. Ancient World:
- Traditional European grape Vitis Vinifera grows between 30 and 50 degrees of latitude on either side of the equator. All famous regions and countries for wine production fall between these two bands.
- Vineyard aspects: East-west axis carries same connotation in both hemispheres but north facing vineyards provide more sun in the south and vice versa
- Getting even more technical, southern hemisphere even has oceanic currents that influence their wine growing regions
- The Humboldt current (South America), the Benguela Current (South Africa), West Australia Current (Australia)
- Gulf Stream (North America)
- Vintage on a bottle denotes what year the grapes were picked in, not when the wine is released to the market
- Southern hemisphere harvests in February-April
- Northern hemisphere in late August-October
- Sometimes wine from the southern hemisphere can make it to market before American grapes are even picked.
- Because of this – phenomena of traveling winemaker
- Southern hemisphere wines tend to be fruitier, fuller, less acidic and more alcoholic than wines finding more similarities to American wines rather than European
- OPINION: While some grapes can grow on both sides, I think there are certain ones that truly identify with a specific hemisphere because of the right conditions. Some grapes are so versatile, some are so finicky
- IE – Pinot Noir from Burgundy is really hard to beat
- IE – Shiraz from Australia
- HOWEVER – Chardonnay; 20 years ago old versus new were easy to tell apart but not anymore
- The most basic difference between Old World and New World wines is geographic: Old World means Europe
- Climates in NW are often warmer, leading to riper -> more sugar -> more alcohol
- NW tends to use more oak
- OW more mineral, earth
Overall, New World wines tend to mimic and then innovate. The definition of these wines is far less structure than those of the Old World.
- A lot of this comes down to old versus new. Southern hemisphere is pretty strictly NEW WORLD which comes with new ideas in marketing especially with social media presence
- FAMILIARITY: Southern hemisphere (again a battle of new and old) happy to label wines with varietals while many European wines, especially France label by region, appellation
In the original episode (#6) we compared Chenin Blanc from South Africa and the Loire Valley of France, and Malbec from France and from Argentina
- It was all yummy
Sadly, the debate of Old World vs New World wine often means that the OGs of winemaking get forgotten. So more and more, enthusiasts refer to this spot as the “ancient world” of wine.
Ancient world references where Vitis vinifera originated in far-Eastern Europe. Today, this area is a burgeoning wine region that is invigorating its ancient varieties and borrowing winemaking techniques from both past and present.
The Cradle of Wine Civilization
The countries described as Ancient World would include Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Georgia, Israel, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Cyprus, and Greece.
While these countries aren’t as well known for their wine in a modern context, one cannot deny the importance of their winemaking traditions. In fact, the most fascinating aspect of Ancient World wine practices is their combination of modern winemaking techniques with traditions that date back to before the modern era.
- Wine Folly article by co-founder Madeleine Puckette
VinePair article: 6 old world grapes that made it big in the New world:
As a grape born in France, Malbec’s original role was to be one of the six grapes eligible for inclusion in the famed Bordeaux blend, but while its siblings Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were always included, Malbec consistently found itself languishing in the corner. But as we know, no one puts baby in a corner, and so Malbec found its way to Argentina where it became the bell of the ball. It’s now one of the most popular red wines in the US, and all it needed was to take a trip to South America.
Carménère was another one of the six Bordeaux grapes that found itself seldom used in the blend’s creation, so seeing the success of its sibling Malbec, it also picked up and moved to the Southern Hemisphere. Planting its roots in Chile, just next door to Argentina where Malbec was flourishing, Carménère is now one of the fastest rising red wines on the American market.
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Sure wine aficionados have been familiar with this Rhone varietal for centuries, but it wasn’t until Syrah made its way to Australia and became Shiraz that it became a global phenom. In fact, Shiraz became so popular that many people don’t realize it’s the same grape as French Syrah!
Sauvignon Blanc found minor success in the posh nightclubs of Paris, where it was known as Sancerre, but didn’t reach global acclaim until it journeyed to New Zealand. In the 1980s, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand hit the American market, and wine drinkers went crazy for the crisp, grassy and refreshing white wine. From that moment on, one could hear people requesting Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand in wine shops everywhere throughout the summer.
Zinfandel is so famous as a New World wine, that it was originally thought to have actually originated in the state of California. However, recent research has shown the grape actually originated in Croatia, and that some time in the 1820s it made its way to the US. How’s that for reinventing yourself?
Before you start screaming that Cabernet has been famous in Bordeaux for centuries, hear us out. Prior to its arrival in California, Cabernet was primarily famous for its role as the dominant player in left bank Bordeaux blends, but it was the bright lights of California that made Cabernet a true star, convincing the grape to leave its supporting cast behind and finally cut that solo record it had always wanted to. Hollywood can have that effect on people.
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