New World and Old World wines
L’avevo preannunciato alcune settimane fa ed ora è finalmente arrivato il momento di presentarvelo davvero. Come abbiamo avuto occasione di dire nella nostra presentazione siamo molto affezionati al sistema vitivinicolo australiano, soprattutto chi vi ha dedicato un lungo periodo di studio. E ora, sebbene per ragioni differenti, siamo entrambi molto emozionati.
Spetta a me il meraviglioso privilegio di introdurre il testo scritto per noi da Brendan, da Perth, preparatissimo conoscitore di vini australiani, che ringraziamo con un brindisi transoceanico per la sua gradevole collaborazione.
Brendan di tanto in tanto scriverà per noi. La sua preparazione è davvero vastissima ed è supportata da una grande passione per il vino. Se vorrete porgli domande sono certa che sarà lieto di soddisfare le vostre curiosità.
Lascio la parola a Brendan e ad una stuzzicante degustazione. Buona lettura!
I had announced him several weeks ago and now is the time to really present him. As we had occasion to say in our presentation we are very fond of Australian wine, especially who studied the wine system for a long time. And now, although for different reasons, we are both very excited.
It’s for me the wonderful privilege of introducing the text written for us by Brendan, from Perth, trained Australian wine connoisseur, whom we thank with a transoceanic toast for his pleasant collaboration.
From time to time Brendan will write on our Wineup blog. His knowledge of wine is very wide and it is supported by a great passion. If you want to ask him some questions, I am sure that he will be the right person to satisfy your curiosity.
I give Brendan a clear run, I hope you will enjoy the tasting and the reading!
Recently I hosted a tasting in one of the wine groups that I belong to. The theme that I chose was “Old World” versus “New World” wines. Being an Australian, all the New World wines I chose were from Australia.
My purpose was to stimulate discussion about terroir (by terroir I mean not simply suitability of a site for a particular grape variety but also the ability of the wine to express specific qualities reflective of the site and soil) and also to discuss Old World and New World viticultural and wine-making practices.
New World wine-making – and particularly wine-making in Australia – is not shackled by tradition. This can be seen as an advantage as different varieties can be planted at different sites; and blends, sometimes from different regions, are often made. However, Old World wine-making often brings with it a long history of knowledge of the site and the use of wine-making techniques well-established and well-suited to produce consistency of style for the wine of the region.
The recognition of the advantages and disadvantages of Old and New World wine-making is reflected by the fact that Old World consultants often travel to the New World, (for example, Michel Rolland’s consultancy in Chile) while New World winemakers are often called to make wine in the New World. (Chris Ringland, the well-known Australian, has been involved in projects in Spain and Puglia in Italy.)
A brief word about Australia’s particular position in the world of wine: Australia is blessed by a wide range of climatic conditions; there are some areas as cold as Champagne, and others as warm as Sicily. Some of the soil and rocks in Australia are hundreds of thousands of years old. The history of wine-making in Australia is older than some think; the first vines were brought by early British, French and German settlers well over a hundred years ago. Some vines, such as those of some Shiraz plantations in South Australia, are over a hundred years old and some occur on authoctonous vine stocks.
We are only beginning to understand which sites suit which varieties best in Australia. Perhaps more of that in a later page of the blog….
On to the tasting…
For the appetiser I chose to serve a Tasmanian sparkling wine by Kreglinger, which was a vintage style (2000) and a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It was made in the Methode Champenoise and at a blind tasting recently I had picked it as being Old World or French. I thought it would be interesting to stimulate discussion amongst the group by starting with this wine. Half of the group picked it as an Old World wine and the other half as New World. It had the brioche characters, bead and complexity of palate that I had only seen previously in sparkling wines from Champagne.
The next set was two Rieslings. I chose to match one of Australia’s best Rieslings, that of Howard Park in Western Australia with a German Riesling from the Rhinegau. A German friend of mine emphasised that Rieslings from the Rhinegau were bone dry and had a minerally, slatey characters unlike those from the Moselle which often have some residual sweetness. Here the group found it easier to pick the New World from the Old World wine but remarked how the German Riesling was tighter, leaner and longer, while the Australian Riesling had more evidence of fruit characters but still with acidity and structure to allow development over 10 years.
I then served a Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre in the Loire Valley made by Pascal Jolivet and matched this with a Sauvignon Blanc from a company in Victoria, Australia called De Bortoli. Steven Webber, the chief wine-maker at De Bortoli, has been doing innovative things in Australia and was influenced by a visit to the Loire Valley in France to try to mirror this style. There is some minimal use of old oak and the result is a Sauvignon Blanc very different to that which we are used to in Australia (Australian Sauvignon Blanc’s have been heavily influenced by the wave of Sauvignon Blanc’s from New Zealand which have prominent asparagus, gooseberry, passionfruit and grassy herbaceous characters). Surprisingly the grape variety was not easily picked by the group who felt that it may be Chardonnay. All were impressed by the finesse and elegance of the wine from Sancerre but also of the delicateness of the Australian wine.
Next I matched an unwooded Temperanillo from Spain with one produced in Western Australia. Grape varieties from Spain and Italy are being increasingly planted in our climate and are perhaps well suited to it. Again the Australian wine displayed more up-front fruit characters, while the Spanish wine had a more savoury edge, which was not fully understood or appreciated by some members of the group.
I then served a pair of Pinot Noirs, one a Premier Cru from Burgundy and the other from the Macedon Ranges in Victoria, Australia. The Macedon Ranges are viticulturally the coldest vine growing area in Australia. The whole group picked the grape variety instantly and felt that the Australian wine showed more developed secondary characters, whereas the French wine remained tight with a spine of acidity, and was perhaps still a few years from its best.
I then matched a Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre blend from the Barossa Valley in South Australia with a Chateauneufdupape, principally consisting of these three varieties. The Chateauneufdupape I chose was from a negotiant perhaps more famous for making wine in Burgundy. The Australian wine was overwhelmingly the group’s favourite, not simply of this pair but almost of the whole tasting, second only to the Sauterne I will mention below. The Australian wine again showed some developed characters but displayed a prominence of up-front plummy and dark berry and cherry fruits. The French wine was more restrained.
The tasting ended with two examples of the botrytised wines. I matched a Sauterne from Chateau de Coy with Australia’s most famous botrytised wine, again from De Bortoli, called Noble 1. Again comments were that the French wine showed greater delicacy and finesse, while for pure power and opulence, the Australian wine was preferred. Overall the Chateau de Coy emerged as the favourite wine of the tasting.
What did we learn from this exercise? Firstly, our palates are deeply influenced by what we drink most often and the restrained and often savoury edge to Old World wines, often best suited to food, perhaps takes some getting used to for Australian palates. Secondly, given our lack of any trouble with sunshine, it is clear that Australian wines continue to display prominent up-front fruit characters and while these are often supported by a balance of tannins, acidity and a structural spine, they were frequently not difficult to pick in the above tasting. Overall it was a fun exercise and one that I may repeat in the coming months. Below is a detailed list of the wines that were served.
NEW WORLD/OLD WORLD TASTING
University Wine Society
KREGLINGER VINTAGE BRUT 2000 (TASMANIA)
B BECKER RIESLING KABINETT TROCKEN 2004 (RHEINGAU, GERMANY)
HOWARD PARK RIESLING 2005 (WA)
PASCAL JOLIVET SAUVIGNON BLANC 2006 (SANCERRE, FRANCE)
DE BORTOLI SAUVIGNON 2007 (YARRA VALLEY, VIC)
ROCHFORD PINOT NOIR 2003 (MACEDON RANGES, VIC)
DOMAINE BOUCHARD PERE ET FILS BEAUNE MARCONNETS PREMIER CRU 2002 (BURGUNDY, France)
WEST CAPE HOWE TEMPERANILLO 2006 (DENMARK, WA)
TELMO RODRIGUEZ DEHESA GAGO TEMPERANILLO 2005 (TORO, SPAIN)
PROSPER MAUFOUX CHATEUNEUF-DU-PAPE 2003 (FRANCE)
CHARLES MELTON NINE POPES (GRENACHE SHIRAZ MOUVEDRE) 2003 (BAROSSA VALLEY)
CHATEAU DE COY 2003 (SAUTERNES, FRANCE)
DE BORTOLI NOBLE ONE BOTRYTIS SEMILLON 2004 (NSW)