Thanks for joining us Dave. Can you give us an insight into both Old World and New World winemaking?
Old World wine primarily refers to wine made in Europe and other countries with long and elaborate winemaking histories. New World generally refers to countries and regions with younger viticultural experience, such as the United States, South America and Australia. These terms are used to distinguish between winemaking techniques and practices in different parts of the world at different stages throughout history.
Do you believe that there are misconceptions about New World Wine versus Old World?
There are some misconceptions, and that’s because Old World and New World are just not as distinguishable as they used to be— assuming they ever were. Traditionally, Old World wines are more European in style, with lower alcohol content and a stronger emphasis on texture versus fruit and oak. The latter describes a lot of Australian and Californian wines, which many people refer to as “Bottled Sunshine.” But this is consequential. We have more sunshine and therefore our fruit is riper, hence the higher alcohol content. The distinction between New and Old will primarily come about from location and the age of the country. Australia is still very, very young.
What are some traditionally European techniques that you may still see in operation today?
Often there are deliberate attempts to emulate the European Old World style. We sometimes reduce ripeness by picking earlier, therefore reducing the alcohol content. Or we use less oak, bringing the wine into balance.
And there’s a demand for such wines in Australia?
Oh, definitely. The Chardonnay of ten years ago was very buttery and full of rich oak flavours. Our palates have changed and as a result, the new generation of Australian Chardonnay is considerably more refined.
What are some of the similarities between Old and New World winemaking techniques?
The fact of the matter is that these distinctions are becoming more integrated. This is a generalisation, but traditional Old World winemakers left their red wines on skins for longer for the purpose of extraction, which changed the palate structure. In the New World, we tend to press off imminently at the end of fermentation to retain more fruit flavours. The techniques are different but the outcome is the same: we’re searching for the best wine. We don’t have the long history that Europe does, and as a result, we don’t have the long-established regions, bureaucracies and regulations that they do. In this respect we’re freer. But as the Old World pioneers did back in the day, we’re planting vines in the places that they grow best. It makes sense. This again points out how aligned these two philosophies are.
What do you think is in the future of winemaking? Is it a case of ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?’
As we move back towards the Old World methods, the New World has been moving towards us. For example, it’s now not unusual to discover ‘Old World style Chardonnay’ that is full of that richer oak quality … The line is blurring and you just can’t generalize anymore. In reality, Old and New World techniques and wines are much closer than you’d imagine. There will be pioneers along the way, but things will generally remain the same. The gap is naturally bridging.
To discover some of the characteristics Dave refers to, discover the Chalk Hill Luna Shiraz 2010 , a fantastic example of New World winemaking and Briar Ridge Karl Stockhausen Signature Release Shiraz 2009, which is made in a wonderful Old World style.