Interesting times, interesting wines...
Old world wines, new world wines: oenophiles always express a preference for one or the other. For New World fans, wines produced by the US, Australia, Argentina and Chile are tastier, fuller-bodied, and easier to drink on their own. New World enthusiasts also feel they are better value for money and more easily identifiable, being often labelled by brand-name `and grape variety rather than hard-to-pronounce French or German vineyard and region.
These attributes are largely anathema to Old World affectionados. For them, the nuanced subtleties of a fine burgundy or bordeaux – refined and carefully elaborated over successive vintages - will always be preferable to the meatiness of an Argentinan Malbec or Californian zinfandel (indeed, some traditionalists deplore the very notion of a single varietal wine). They will always regard the distinctiveness of old world wine, the “terroir” or sense of place and history, as factors that will always make them superior. They believe it is this that makes it possible, say, for two wines made from the same grape but grown in adjacent vineyards to have completely distinct characteristics. For such oenophiles, place really and truly matters.
Which brings us to the purpose of this website. Growing interest in wine and the growth of the Internet have – unsurprisingly - led to a huge growth in sites devoted to the complex but always fascinating world of wine. Many of these are very good, providing useful and well-written information about wine-regions, new vintages and off the shelf bargains. Many are also overly self-absorbed. Rather than educate the user, they lose him/her in excessive detail or in excruciating blogs detailing the minutae of the writer’s life.
Oldandnewworld will discuss trends in the wine business through our regularly updated Off the Shelf section – which will highlight our favourite old and new world buys available in UK shops – and in our Tastings and Wine Journeys sections.
The key focus will be on lesser-known regions. In the New World, for example, expect to see reviews of wines from Brazil or Uruguay rather than Argentina or Chile, or from Virginia and New York State rather than California.
In the Old World, we will emphasise wines from the Balkans – undergoing a renaissance after years of under-investment, with ambitious winemakers coaxing impressive results from such indigenous varieties like vranac and feteasca neagra. We will also concentrate on producing nations like Lebanon, Greece and Georgia (old world wine doesn’t get older than this, reputedly the country where wine-making was invented, many thousands of years BC).
Whenever possible, we will focus on indigenous grape varieties, often so much more interesting than when local producers try their hand at Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. We will be honest in our descriptions and recommendations. We will also try to be as straightforward as possible, keeping what can often be overly verbose comments about the wine to a minimum. And finally - we always welcome feedback and comment.
Justin Keay has worked as a journalist for 25 years, writing for publications including the New York Times, The Times, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal Europe. Although his main professional interests have been mostly in the fields of international relations and economics, he has long had a strong interest in wine, especially from lesser known producing countries. As deputy editor of CNBC European Business magazine, he launched their wine pages and has since continued his interests with this site, attending tastings and press trips whenever time and opportunity permit. Special interests within the Old World include Portugal and central and eastern Europe, and within the New, wines from the US, South Africa and New Zealand.
In Wine Journeys:
- Portugal's Lost Regions: Barraida and Dao
- Pico's Revival
- Hanging out with the Douro Boys
- Portugal's Amazing Alentejo
- Provence: The land of grey and pink
- Burgundy for Beginners
- Return to California's Central Coast
- Awesome Alsace
- Tremendous Toro
- Changing Cyprus
In Cellar Chat
- Volcanic Wines
- Discovering the Eastern Med
- New Wave Regions
View from Groot Constantia, February 2012