What the F*** is New World Wine?
Remember the old world versus the new world? It has been a hot topic for decades, punctuated by the notable Paris Tasting of 1976 (also known as the Paris Judgment). It was long believed that new world wines just could not match the complexity, the finesse, the sheer quality of old wines. In 1976 Californian wines led the way, and beat out some of of the big guns in fine wines both red and white. Fast forward 40 years and New World wines are all the rage! So what the fuck is new world wine, and why is it awesome? We are so glad you asked!
For starters, New World wine is basically anything that is not considered the Old World of wine. Duh, right? Well it is worth reminding ourselves that the Old World is basically anything from Europe and a few places in North Africa and the Middle East. The Old World is anywhere where wine grapes are native or have a history going back more than a couple hundred years, while for the New World it is anywhere where people brought wine grapes with them. In a nutshell that means the New World is North America, South America, Australasia, and Southern Africa plus a few countries like India, and Japan (bet you didn’t know India had a wine producing industry did you!)
For the most part when we talk about the New World of wine we talk about the New World powerhouses of The United States (most notably California and the North West), Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa. Within each country there are a large number of regions each with their own characteristics often reminiscent of something from the Old World. People noticed, they found the terroir to be really suitable for this wine or that wine, and they started to grow grapes to make the magical liquid we call wine. Sometimes even outshining, or saving the grape as in the case of Malbec from Argentina, or Primitivo from Italy, which has found fame as Zinfandel in the United States.
So what makes New World wine so awesome? New World wine is awesome because there are no rules. In the old world there are rules and regulations of what you can grow and where, but that does not exist at all in the New World. Old World wines are defined by regions, and while that is important in the New World it is not the be all and end all. New World winemakers have license to grow and make whatever the hell they want, so if they want to grow Cabernet Franc next to Pinot Noir, and in between Viognier and Zinfandel, then they can go ahead and do it.
That is what we love about New World wine, that it really allows winemakers to get creative, to express themselves, and challenge what wine can be like. Whether traditionalists, or rebellious innovators, the New World is famous for taking wine to whole new levels sharing in the artistic spirit of Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, Jackson Pollock, or fuck even the Ramones, and Motley Crue! Why? Because fuck it! There are no rules in the New World, they just want to make what they like, and make it awesome, which is what makes the New World rock.
*** Edit: An earlier version stated that the American wines DID NOT win the overall Paris Judgement, when in fact they DID WIN in BOTH red and white categories. The judges were so shocked that Odette Kahn, famed wine reviewer, demanded her ballot back.