We've got an excellent reason to drink! The Hollywood Bowl announced their 2012 schedule today. Pixar in concert? The Producers? Fireworks!!
Winemaking Off the Map: Old Word Style and New World Style
There’s more to winemaking style than simply pointing on a map and declaring that’s where Old World wines are made and there’s where New World wines are made. The truth is any region is capable of making either style of wine. The decision of what to make and how is really a matter of taste. It would be simplistic to say that winemaking techniques differ according to region, terrain and cultural traditions when there’s a quite a bit more too it than that.
Of course, terrain dictates a lot in winemaking and if the wine is Old World style, that quality in the wine is left in its purest possible state. Old World style wine is often “terroir driven”, which is a fancy pants term that refers to this notion that those things that are out of the vintner’s control, such as soil, climate and topography, are part of what gives each wine its unique profile. Old World style winemakers try to capitalize on the qualities imparted through the growing process rather than changing or masking those flavors. If the grapes come from soil that has a high mineral content, then that will be treated as a component of the flavor of the final product. This style of winemaking shies away from using any techniques or additives that diminish or hide the qualities imparted by terroir.
By contrast, New World style wines are noted for playing with flavors through techniques that are intended to bring out the fruit flavors of wine to create “fruit driven” wines. This is often achieved through use of modern scientific advances. One issue New World style wine makers confront is the fact that vines grown in areas identified as New World tend to be fruitier and have higher sugar content. As a result, these wines are often subjected to a process known as acidification where the vintner adds grape acid to balance out the flavor of the wine. By contrast, the wines from older growing regions suffer from the opposite problem -- they’re too acidic and if not put through a sweetening process known as chaptalization some of these wines would simply be undrinkable. These techniques and how they are labeled New World or Old World have stirred up controversy within the winemaking world with various countries and regions banding together to sign pacts or form organizations to support each style.
One reason for the difference in approach has to do with how the wine cultures evolved. In countries like France where Burgundy or Champagne are uniquely from those regions, they have hundreds of years of tradition, skill and technique that go into producing a familiar product that is instantly recognizable on first taste. For New World regions, in order to get something that tastes like it was grown, harvested and made in another country, some scientific magic is often required to mimic those qualities. As a result, New World style winemakers are less married to restrictions that would inhibit them from creating the flavor profile they want to achieve.
No matter how you slice it, we like wine - Old World style and New. It’s fun to make a survey and compare for yourself. For us, it’s like comparing Classical music to Rock ‘n Roll. We love them both, but they each definitely have their own style.