Oct 09, 2017

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New

The seven major wine producing nations in the world are France, Italy, Spain, the United States of America, Argentina, Australia and South Africa. The distinction between Old World and New World white wine is mostly determined by the area in which it is produced, which further affects the techniques used to make it.

Traditionally, the major producer and consumer of wine was Europe. But, entrepreneurial ex-colonies like America have become a major player in the wine producing world. Thus the distinction, between Old World and New World white wine. The myth that Old World white wine is better than New World white wine has a little truth to it. Why do we see this distinction between wines?



The Old World white wines have made their reputation over centuries. The fact that many of the old players haven’t altered their winemaking techniques at all, is a major factor in preserving this reputation. Rich traditional background makes the Old World wines more marketable. Also, the idea of drinking the same thing people have been having for hundreds of years is actually quite romantic!

On the other hand, the New World white wines are representative of the entrepreneurial spirit of the New World in which they were being produced. The new-age wine makers did not necessarily stick to the old techniques and did not shy away from experimentation. This altered the taste of the wine and took away the traditional advantage when it came to marketing. The mass-produced nature of wine resulted in a boom that made wine accessible to the rest of the world at competitive prices. This contributed in branding the New World white wine as ‘common’.



As we’ve discussed earlier, terroir is a sense of territory and of the land in which the vineyard stands and the wine is made. Generally speaking, the wines from the old world are lighter and have lesser alcohol content as compared to the bolder, fuller tastes of the new world. This can be attributed to the fact that the same grape-seed variety can produce a variety of flavours, depending on different environmental factors.

Traditionally, most of the wines were produced in colder regions but now that winemaking has spread to warmer climates as well, it is reflected on the wine making techniques and therefore on the taste and texture of the wine produced.

Chardonnay grapes are known for embracing the qualities of its terroir quite well; to the extent that Chardonnay which was originally grown in Burgundy, when grown in Champagne tasted different. Therefore, the new world could not duplicate the flavours. This resulted in the same variety of grapes tasting different, giving birth to wines that were called by the traditional names yet did not taste like their earlier counterparts.

Having said that, this did not stop Chardonnay from being extensively produced and consumed in a lot of the new world countries like the U.S., South Africa and Chile.


Apart from these general reasons, there are some interesting facts that might have helped in widening this reputation gap between the two types of white wines.


Champagn: The Name Game

European Union’s wine-trade agreement with the U.S. barring the use of the term ‘Champagne’ for most American wine producers, thus keeping it exclusive for Champagne produced in France, fuels the myth about Old World wines being somewhat superior to New World wines.



Chardonnay: The American Disaster

Chardonnay is largely produced in both the Old World and New World, but the oaking disaster gave it a bad rapport. The New World wine-makers, in a bid to produce creamier wine or in some cases to hide the bad quality of the fruit, increased the time for which they aged the wine in oak; to an extent that it tasted like liquid butter. This put many people off of Chardonnay. Although that disaster has been dealt with and almost all the wineries use the right duration of oaking time today – or have eliminated oak in the Chardonnay ageing process altogether – this contributed to the conception of the superiority of Old World white wine.


Sauvignon Blanc: Revival

Sauvignon Blanc received a revival in New Zealand. Wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes was known and consumed by the name Sancerre in Paris. Even till the late 1980s, the wine produced using Sauvignon Blanc was relished in parties and circles of Paris, but without the actual grape’s name being commonly known. But once it reached New Zealand, the wine got named after the grape and was widely distributed around the world markets. So the people who had already consumed and appreciated Sancerre before, did not appreciate Sauvignon Blanc, viewing it as an upstart wine from the New World!

White Wine Tasting Event by Mozaic Club

If you’re interested in the differences between Old World and New World White Wines, you may enjoy Mozaic Club’s elegant event this month. We will be holding a wine tasting event on October 26, in Hip Cellar, Hong Kong (www.hipcellar.com) with Mike Rowell of Altaya Wines as the host. He will conduct the tasting and educate our members on this topic.

The event will be held on October 26 at 7:30 pm to 10 pm, and the wine tasting will be accompanied by seafood canapés to pair.

Our participants will taste an eclectic range of wines:

  • Pol Roger Brut NV (an extremely well-done Champagne from equal parts of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay sourced from 30 different crus)
  • Moulin de Gassac Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (a wine with expressive aromas of peaches and citrus fruit, great balance and length on the palate)
  • Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere Blanc 2015 (a wine of great intensity and complexity)
  • Billaud Simon Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons 2015 (a quality leader in Chablis)
  • Vincent Girardin Meursault Vieilles Vignes 2014 (a well-defined bouquet with grapefruit and apple blossom)
  • Bellavista Franciacorta ALMA Brut NV (from the source of the finest metodo traditional [traditional Champagne method] wines)
  • Mahi Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (a complex wine with a creamy, textural mid-palate and a long finish)
  • Peter Michael L'Apres-Midi Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (a wine with aromas of citrus and tropical fruits with mineral notes on the palate)
  • Giant Steps Tarraford Chardonnay 2015 (a white peach, grapefruit and creamy cashew palate, with a driving finish thanks to its natural acidity)
  • Walter Hansel Chardonnay The North Slope 2013 (a wine with notes of pear, honeysuckle and white peach in an elegant, medium-bodied style)



Mozaic Club is organising the white wine tasting session at Hip Cellar under the guidance of Mike Rowell, on October 26, 2017, from 7:30 pm to 10 pm. If you’re interested in joining us, check out our FaceBook page events.

Or our website, social calendar page.


#white wine #NewWorldOldWorld #wine #winery

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