Wine: Old World, New World
By Kay Pfaltz
What do they mean, these static terms? New World generally denotes those wines displaying more fruit and coming from North and South America, South Africa or Australia, whereas Old World implies Europe.
To better understand, try this little experiment: Smell the wine. New World wines often smell of plums or cherries (fill in the fruit), and taste of them too. Old World wines may reveal fruit on the nose, but on the palette there is more acidity, cranberries for instance, instead of blackberries or raspberries. This makes sense when we realize Europeans view wine as a beverage to drink with meals—and to pair with food and not taste ‘flabby’, wines need a certain acidity—whereas many New Worlders drink wine as a cocktail.
I taste wine with a friend whose palette usually prefers the New World, while I have always considered my taste buds Old World. But after testing her on some older Bordeaux, she may be switching camps, and while I don’t like to admit it, my palette may be morphing into what I think of as immediate gratification…the fruit-forward wines of the New World.
But labels discomfit me and I wonder are they remotely valid, for this is the same dualistic thinking that seeks understanding by labeling young/old, male/female, gay/straight, black/white, (pink/purple). And just as when we attempt to define a person with labels and miss his soul, do we also diminish a wine by preformed opinions? Consider thatSouth Africa’s Constantia was around long before Bordeaux had produced much more than shad on a spit, and the wines of Chile predate Spain’s Rioja by about three centuries. Maybe our labeling of wine is as simplistic, and erroneous, as our labeling of people. Sometimes we need to turn off our brains in order to open our hearts.
So once more, to better understand, close your eyes, let go of preconceived notions, and just smell it…. Then taste it…. Then savor it. Labels go out the window, don’t they? Yet for labels’ sake, three to try. Then you decide. But always taste wine, and life, with an open mind…and heart, and take labels with a grain of salt for rarely do they tell the whole story about someone…or even some wine.
New World: Erales Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005 – Mendoza, Argentina. Last of the beautiful 2005 vintage. Rich, dense, yet silken and smooth. Blackberry, blueberry, black cherry and chocolate. $29.99. Old World: Mas de Gourgonnier – This beautiful property outside of St-Rémy de Provence produces not only organic wine, but also olive oil and apricot butter. Look for notes of garrigue, earth, tobacco, spice and plum. $16.99 Old World meets New World: So I tell my friend I’ll bring wines we both like…and to date, we’ve not rejected a one. Domaine de Grand Veneur, ‘Les Origines’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 2006 – Combines the sumptuous fruit of New World with the complexity and earthiness of Old World. Notes of licorice, blackberries, blackcurrant, spices, vanilla, Provencal herbs and lavender. This wine will evolve in the bottle over years to come.
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