New World Wines: What’s Really Up?

What is New World Wine?

New World wines are those that are produced outside of the traditional winemaking areas in Europe. So if you’re drinking a wine from Italy or France, that’s an Old World wine. If instead, you’re indulging in a glass of wine from New Zealand, South Africa, the US, or even Argentina, you’re enjoying a New World wine. 

What is the Difference between Old World and New World Wines?

The differences between Old World and New World wines have been discussed and debated. Many people will pick Old World wines over New World wines and vice versa, but what is it that makes these two wine worlds so different? Here at WineCollective, we don’t think that one is better than the other! But understanding the differences between these two worlds and the wines they produce is the first step to understanding what wine styles you like and which ones to steer away from!

New World wines tend to be fuller-bodied, and higher in alcohol. They also tend to have lower acidity and are much riper on the palate. Old World wines, on the other hand, showcase a lighter body, they are lower in alcohol and higher in acidity. They show more earth-driven flavours and are less fruity than the New World ones. 

It is important to acknowledge that there are many exceptions to this. With climate change, and evolving winemaker preferences, it is not uncommon to come across a New World wine that is lighter in alcohol and higher in acidity or an Old World wine that is high in alcohol or has a riper flavour profile.

What are the Characteristics of New World Wines?

New World Wine Styles

As mentioned above, since New World vineyards are generally in hotter climates such as South Africa and Argentina, the fruit tends to mature and ripen much quicker than Old World vineyards. This means the grape, as it ripens, will have more sugar and less acid unlike grapes from vineyards with cooler growing climates.

As a result, these vineyards produce wines that are higher in alcohol, more fruit-forward, and have lower acidity than wines of central-northern Europe. New World wines tend to lend more “jammy” flavours, with more structure on the palate. 

New World Wine Labels 

Old World wines tend to use the region of origin to label their wines. Think Bordeaux, Chianti, or Rioja. This labelling style requires consumers to have some base knowledge of the grape varieties grown in that region… For example, Chianti is usually a Sangiovese-dominant blend, while Rioja is usually Tempranillo, but the label won’t tell you that!

In contrast, New World wines are named by the variety of the grape, such as Merlot, Shiraz, or Cabernet Sauvignon. This makes wine more accessible to everyone and gives less experienced wine lovers the opportunity and confidence to pick what they like and develop their wine palate. 

Selling New World Wine

With Old World Wines, geography tends to denote the style, along with the general taste and appeal of the wine. New World wines have steered away from this convention and are less dependent on geography and focus on varieties instead. They have placed more emphasis on branding when marketing. This is why you may have heard of Yellow Tail or Barefoot Cellars, but perhaps don’t know exactly what region it is from! 

Rules and Traditions 

Winemakers in the Old World usually have to adhere to tradition and complicated appellation rules in order to produce a wine that can be classified as specific to that region. Since New World wine countries aren’t bound by the same kind of tradition, they have more room to experiment. This doesn’t mean that anything goes, but there’s more freedom to experiment with grape varieties, and viticultural or vinification techniques, like using wine eggs or even employing a gravity-flow system

Where are New World Wines Made? 

Any region outside of Europe and the Middle East is classified as a New World wine region. There are so many regions in the New World that produce wine. Let’s explore some of these regions that you may or may not be familiar with! 

Vineyards along the mountain lines in Santiago, Chile. A New World wine region

Chilean Wines 

This New World wine region sits along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, and due to the climate and terroir, it produces wines that are plush, fruit-forward and herbaceous. Chile produces wines that are similar in style to French wine! If you are a fan of French reds and want to explore the New World, try the Casa Viva Cabernet Sauvignon

Vineyards that overlook the mountain and a small waterbody in Mendoza, Argentina. A New World wine region

Argentinian Wines 

With a unique terroir and ideal growing conditions, Argentina, more specifically Mendoza, produces some of the world’s most renowned Malbecs. Looking to try a textbook Mendoza Malbec? Give the Mi Terruño Reserve Malbec a try.

Vineyards in Napa Valley, California. A New World wine region

American Wines

With its red and volcanic soil, along with its unique terroir, the United States, or more specifically California, is well known for its big and bold Cabernet Sauvignons. The wines produced here resemble Bordeaux style wines so much, that the 1985 Groth Cabernet sauvignon was awarded a perfect 100-point score by the well known Bordeaux critic, Robert Parker. A fruity and juicy example to try is the Aviary Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Vineyards along hills in Stellenbosch, South Africa. A New World wine region

South African Wines 

Did you know that South Africa is the oldest of all the New World wine countries since their vines were first planted in the 17th century? South Africa is known for their Cabernet Sauvignons, so if you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, you must get your hands on a South African one to try! They produce high alcohol wines that still remain fruity, juicy and approachable. If you’re looking to try a South African Cabernet Sauvignon, give the Boschkloof Cabernet Sauvignon a try. 

Vineyards across the coast of Tasmania, Australia. A New World wine region

Australian Wines 

You think Australia and you think heat! So isn’t it surprising that Australia’s climate and terroir allow them to produce well-rounded Chardonnays with a smooth butteriness – perfect to pair with popcorn at your next movie night! Tasmania has a cooler climate than the rest of Australia, so the Chardonnay grape thrives well in this climate. If you are a fan of French Chardonnay, particularly white Burgundy, you will love the Devil’s Corner Chardonnay from Tasmania.

It is safe to say that New World wines have allowed for variety and different characteristics to be produced within the same grape varieties. Different growing climates and conditions produce varying results of the same varieties, thus giving us more choices and options to pick and choose from. What do you think about the New and Old World wines? Do you prefer one over the other?

If you want to keep learning and exploring the world of wine, be sure to sign up for a WineCollective subscription for amazing wines from both the Old and New World. You’ll receive tasting notes, a 15-50% discount in the online store, and more fun content like this! We like learning – one sip at a time!

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