Thursday, April 06, 2006

What’s New World and Old World all about, anyway?

When it comes to Old World and New World wines, think in terms of history, like Christopher Columbus sailing the seas (experiencing new foods) and discovering the New World in 1492. Old World wines come from, you guessed it, the Old World, which consists of the wine-producing regions of Europe. The New World is everything but Europe. Easy right?

Wait, there’s more. There’s more than regional differences, there’s matters of taste. Some typical differences include:

Old World Wines vs. New World Wines
Higher acidity vs. Lower Acidity
Mild oak flavours vs. Stronger oak
Earthier flavours (minerals, soil…) vs. Fruitier flavours (berries, cherries, plums…)
Subtle tastes vs. Bolder tastes
Sense of place (terrior)

Though, these distinctions are fading. It’s evident in the New World wines that depict the flavours of the regions they’re grown in. A good example of this is the Okanagan Valley (i.e. Silver Sage wines and La Frenz's Alexandria) wines that pick up the fruit flavours of the nearby orchards. Also, Old World wines used to be lower in alcohol, but that distinction isn’t always true these days.

The 2004 wine-documentary Mondovino implies that more New World wine makers are emulating Old World wines and the Old World wine makers are producing New World styles. Whew! Busy people. Not to mention, there are numerous companies that own wineries in both Old World and New World regions, or at least they have products made on the opposite side of the world from them (E& J Gallo’s imported Red Bicyclette). Maybe we should just call it Traditional and Modern?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Cabernet Sauvignon from California's Ravenswood

Ravenswood Vintners Blend Cabernet Sauvignon California 2003
Sonoma Valley, California
13.5% alcohol
$19.99 for a 750 ml bottle

“No Wimpy Wines” – the Ravenswood motto

I must admit that I’m pretty smitten with Ravenswood wines. This California winery may be known for their Zinfandels, but they make a lot of different types of wine. I even like their Celtic-inspired logo with three head-to-tail ravens forming a circle. It kinda reminds of me of the old 45 record inserts. Remember those? Ah, the simple days of vinyl and record players! Though there’s something almost poignant about listening to the scratch and crackle of a record, I’ll take my CDs and MP3s any day, thank you.

On to my review… Yum! This Cab Sauv is a young, rich, fruit-forward wine with currant and spice flavours. It has a smooth, mild oak taste that gets better with age. I originally tried this deep ruby red wine in early December and found it tasty, but with a bit of an edge. Now, nearly four months later it’s mellowed enough to thoroughly enjoy. It has aromas of cherry and ripe red fruit and berries, with a touch of smoky oak. It goes down smooth, but with a little aftertaste kick of spice and the slight tartness of mild tannins. Flavours of smoke, cherry, black licorice and cassis make this an enjoyable sipper. I also like the warm, smooth, slightly buttery aftertaste that lingers on my tongue. Tastes like big bucks, but won’t blow the budget. Let me repeat myself: Yum, yum, yum!