Time to scrap “New World Wine”? | New Brief out, #162 | The Wine Newsletter

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Per Karlsson portrait Britt Karlsson portraitIs it time to scrap “New World Wine”?

Not the wines of course but the generalising description of a group of wines using those words.

“This feels like a New World wine” is something we sometimes hear when people taste blind. We sometimes use that description ourselves. It usually means that the wine is full-bodied, with lots of ripe fruit, sometimes even over-ripe, almost overwhelming and usually with rather little tannins. Often easy-to-drink “gulpable” that you can drink just by itself and not necessarily with food. Sometimes it can be a power-bomb. Rarely structured with distinct, solid tannins. And a good dose of oak.

If it is a white it would also be full-bodied, not much acidity, and often with quite a lot of vanilla oak character.

But it is probably time to retire this expression, New World style. At least if you use it in that way.

We have just returned from Chile and Argentina and at the end of the week we leave for South Africa. This is wine tours that we do every February and March since quite a few years back. All three countries are obviously in the New World category, but very few of the wines that we taste on our tours fit the descriptions above.

Going back a decade, or maybe two this categorisation felt more appropriate. But today it seems to me a thing of the past. Many wine producers in the New World make great wines, with plenty of freshness and structure (two, for us, important things), and clean fresh fruit. We rarely see the heavy, boring, over-oaked body-building wines that the style description brings to mind. Yesterday, for example, we had a delicious pinotage-syrah-merlot blend from South Africa with and excellent fruit and structure.

So it is time to look at the New World in a New Light. And above all not make over-drastic generalisations. Instead, let’s go looking for the really talented New World winemakers. There are plenty.

In fact, sometimes I get the impression that some winemakers in the “Old World” (Europe) have now taken the lead in the old New World style, especially those who want to make an exclusive and rare prestige cuvée. It is often in that category that I today encounter super-extracted, super-oaked, and, yes, superfluous wines.

For the rest… plenty of reading this month but don’t miss the few remaining spaces on the spring tour to Bordeaux. A great place to go in spring.

And we have now the full autumn program finalised with some exciting news (Alentejo, Piedmont), as well as classics (Bordeaux, the Douro Valley). (Special call-out for Alentejo that due to a mistake was dropped from the list last month. Do take a look at that tour program!)

Britt & Per

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