Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Old World vs. New World - A Tasty Comparison!

The Goddess of Wine and JD had some fun at Fossil Wine Bar in Atascadero last night with a group of eager and engaged students of wine. This was an opportunity to compare a few specific grape varieties made in different regions of the world.

Old World wine refers primarily to wine made in Europe but can also include other regions of the Mediterranean basin with long histories of winemaking such as North Africa and the Near East. The phrase is often used in contrast to New World wine which refers primarily to wines from New World wine regions such as the United States, Australia, South America and South Africa. 

The terminology is used to describe general differences in viticulture and winemaking philosophies between the Old World regions where tradition and the role of terroir lead versus the New World where science and the role of the winemaker are more often emphasized. In recent times, the globalization of wine and advent of flying winemakers have lessened the distinction between the two terms with winemakers in one region being able to produce wines that can display the traits of the other region—i.e. an "Old World style" wine being produced in a New World wine region like California or Chile, and vice versa. 

For the purposes of this class, we limited the Old World wines to regions of France, and New World to California. Future classes will go farther afield.

Sauvignon Blanc

2019 Jean Pabiot et Fils Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine des Fines Caillottes, Estate Bottled, Loire Valley, France - 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Soils comprised of white limestone pebbles known as "caillottes", marl with small fossilized oysters, clay-limestone, flint. Partial skin contact maceration, fermentation and maturing in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks on the lees. Brilliant light yellow color. Aromas of citrus and exotic fruits, followed by a rich mouthfeel, good freshness, full-bodied, well balanced, a bit saline, and a long finish.

2020 Peju Province Sauvignon Blanc, Legacy Collection, Napa Valley, California – 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Rutherford District. The 2020 season will be remembered for factors beyond the normal measurements. In Napa Valley, it was a warm, dry winter, with no rain or cold weather until the end of March. Summer brought very cool mornings and very warm days. Notes of tropical fruits and green apple. Lemongrass and lychee, with white peach and nectarine, pineapple, Key lime and guava spring from the palate with a fresh clean, and surprisingly tart finish.


2018 Maison Chanzy Bourgogne “Les Fortunes”, Burgundy, France – 100% Chardonnay. Soils comprised of clay and limestone. Slow, gentle pressing, fermentation in 350 liter barrels, and in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures, plus aging in 350 liter barrels and in stainless steel vats for 10 months, followed by 5 months of mass aging in stainless steel vats before blending the cuvees and bottling. Aromas of butterscotch and apples on the nose, with the butterscotch recurring in the midpalate. A long bright and acidic finish.

2018 Hahn Estate SLH Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California – 100% Chardonnay. Vineyards planted in the Santa Lucia Highlands experience a long and dry growing season that results in wines with remarkable depth, complexity and ripe fruit flavors. Hahn’s SLH vineyards are planted on a narrow bench at elevations ranging from 200 to 1,200 feet above sea level. Here, plentiful sun and well-drained soils aid concentration and flavor development. Blend of 2 vineyards: 99% Lone Oak Vineyard, 1% Smith Vineyard. Aged 11 months, 35% new French oak. Nose of citrus and stone fruits, followed with hints of ripe tropical fruit and vanilla. On the palate, full-bodied with a viscous round mouthfeel, balanced acidity and flavors of lemon, vanilla and delicate butter notes that lead to an elegant long finish. This was one of the class favorites.


2020 Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone, Rhone Valley, France – 100% Syrah. Château de Saint Cosme is the leading estate of Gigondas and produces the benchmark wines of the appellation. The property has been in the hands of the Barruol family since 1490. Louis Barruol took over from his father in 1992 making a dramatic shift to quality and converting to biodynamics in 2010. The estate lies in the heart of Gigondas, growing in the shade of the Dentelles de Montmirail Mountain. This wine is from the stony Villafranchian terraces of the Gard. The vineyards are known for their limestone sand, red clay, and pebbles, which give a freshness and intensity to the Syrah grapes. The wine is partially destemmed, fermented with natural yeasts, and vinified in concrete vats. A very young wine, this will benefit from more time in the bottle.

2019 Union Sacré Syrah, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley, California – 100% Syrah. Notes of black olive, black pepper, and lavender. Harvested at night. Hand-sorted. Fermented in tank for 3 weeks. 50% whole-clusters. Aged in 60% French oak. The Edna Valley AVA is a sub-region of the larger Central Coast AVA. The valley is roughly bounded by Lake Lopez to the south and Islay Hill to the north. The valley runs east to west, bounded to the west by the Santa Lucia Mountains. It is surrounded by volcanic mountains and characterized by black humus and clay-rich soils. With moderate sunshine, cool maritime fog, and rich oceanic and volcanic soils, the Edna Valley appellation has California's longest growing season. The valley is kept cool by breezes from the Pacific Ocean and morning fog. The extended growing season gives complex flavors to the grapes.

As an added treat, Fossil owner Paul opened a 2018 Crozes-Hermitage 100% Syrah, just because. It was a delicious addition to an already tasty lineup! 

Upcoming classes:

Tuesday, October 12, 6 PM: Tasting Blind at the Savory Palette in Morro Bay

Monday, November 8, 7 PM: Verticals at Fossil Wine Bar

Hope to see you soon!

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