New World vs. Old World

​Simply put, Old World wine is synonymous with European Wine. What’s the difference? Why is there such a following for either style? How do the styles differ?
​I think of New World wine as music of the now. The music we listen to today, and the music we have listened to for the past 50 years. Think back to your college dorm room, sitting on the edge of the bed with your headphones on. You’re playlist consist of Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, and Stevie Ray Vaughn. You’ve listened to the same seven or eight tracks on repeat for hours, days even. You know every word, every note, and can play the air guitar as if you were actually back-up for the band. You’re jammin! You’re getting into it! Your head’s moving up and down, feet are stomping on the floor! The volume is up, the room around you could be on fire, and you wouldn’t even know, and wouldn’t care if you did. How many times have you done this? How many times have you heard these songs? Over and over again, you recite every chorus! Your 100th time around that day, Jim Morrison’s voice cracks, just a touch at the very end of “…light my fire!” Would you notice? I wouldn’t. What if on the 100th time around, two songs switched order on your list? I still wouldn’t notice. Loud music, intense guitar and drums, I wouldn’t notice at all.
​I listen to a lot of Classical music. When I write, I’m constantly listening to Classical. It keeps me focused because there is nothing to sing along to. I frequently listen to the same playlist that repeats a lot of Chopin, and Beethoven. I enjoy the piano more than anything else, so my lists focus around that. Chopin is great for piano lovers. My playlist is usually anywhere from 10 to 15 songs. Classical songs are typically 7-12 minutes long, so unless I’m writing a novel, there isn’t much repetition. They are, however, all songs I’ve heard hundreds of times. I promise you, if Moonlight Sonata was playing, for the first time of the evening, and Beethoven hit a C flat instead of a C sharp, I would notice. Moonlight Sonata is so soft, and so delicate. Each keystroke is perfectly timed, perfectly pitched, and ever so focused. One simple mistake would be picked up immediately.
​I’ll use California as my example for New World, and Burgundy for my Old World. Do you drink 7 Deadly Zins? How long have you been drinking it? If you’ve been drinking any mid-range California wines for a few years, you probably still drink them because they’re amazingly consistent, and always reliable. New World wines are (in general) so fruity, so oaked, so people friendly, you wouldn’t notice even the most drastic changes in the winemaking from year to year. If Lodi California saw a hurricane in 2007 the wine would taste the same as it did in 2006. If they switched wine makers in 2008, it would taste the same as it did in 2007. If popular demand was going crazy, and they were forced to increase production by 300% in 2009, you’d still think you were drinking 2008.
​Burgundy is the complete opposite. When someone speaks of a good vintage in Burgundy, it’s pretty significant. Weather in France drastically affects production. A year that is unusually high in rainfall could easily result in ½ the production. The wine that is produced, could lack concentration. A year that doesn’t have enough rain, would have the complete opposite affect. Too much sunlight could result in over ripening, and loss, as well as super concentration on the wine that is made. Some Burgundy producers make wine from a dozen vines that they inherited. 12 Vines!! A hungry dog in the vineyard could result in 10% less yield. Old World wines, tell the story of the harvest, and the growing season. 20 years from now, a wine maker in Burgundy could sit with his peers and have a bottle of 2006, they would remember the weather patterns, and that random dog. Just as the next time I heard Moonlight Sonata, I would think “I hope he doesn’t miss that note again.”


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