Pre-auction Wine Debate: Old World vs. New World
23 March 2011. Today, an Argentine Malbec, Australian Shiraz, California Pinot Noir or Italian Nero d'Avola can all taste very much alike; an Italian Primitivo can zero in on an American Zinfandel in style, and some Burgundies and Rhone reds show distinct California accents. As more and more Old World wine makers produce wines in a New World style, and increasing sophistication and maturity has inspired growing numbers of New World producers to emulate Old World models, the old definitions are quickly breaking down.
Old World vs New World Wines was the subject of debate at Salcedo Auctions on March 23 to mark the opening of the first Wines and Spirits Auction organized with Forth and Tay, the leading direct merchant of wines and spirits in the country.
Led by Noel Ermitaño, the revered food/wine connoisseur, known most especially for his popular blog, Eye on Wine, the discussion summarized the basic differences in terroir, climate, fruit, alcohol content and labeling. Despite these differences, Ermitano, who has travelled to various wine regions in France, California and Spain, stressed that one shouldn't get caught in the technical details when enjoying wine. "It is a very personal experience, there is no right or wrong," he said. There has been a fusion of vines from cuttings from 'old' to 'new', but also from 'new' to 'old.' Part of the reason why old world makers are innovating their styles has been to please the wine ratings, the more well known ones being from the US," Ermitaño observed.
As continental styles emulate one another, standard definitions and boundaries are breaking down. "The blending of 'old' world and 'new' world wines was partly due to global warming," claimed Jay Labrador, another wine expert who joined Ermitano in the discussion. Labrador has hosted several online forums for the Wines & Spirits Club of the Philippines and the Wine Lovers Discussion Group in the US. Labelling is a key difference among wines from the 'old' world and 'new' world, Labrador noted, "the later focuses on the varietal while the former emphasizes the place of origin. So be careful when you read labels." However whatever the differences or preferences may be, "just remember, the wine is not judging you - you are judging the wine."