Old World v/s New World

Whoever said human beings are creatures of habit likely had me in mind as the exemplar of that adage. I don’t do well with deviations from plans. And so it was that a plethora of tasting ideas from my carefully selected and discriminating fellow Wine Clubbers – with suggestions ranging from Argentinian Malbecs to Italian Chiantis – met with fierce resistance from me. Being the self-appointed but generally acknowledged leader of the group – read the only one who spends hours planning tastings, selecting and shopping for wine, poring over tasting notes, creating wine rating templates, building informational presentations and other such seeming minutiae that make tastings meaningful – they acceded to my insistence on staying the course and following the plan prescribed by my wine guru – Andrea Immer Robinson.

Last weekend’s tasting was a side-by-side comparison of Old World v/s New World wines. We were eager to examine this secret weapon of Sommeliers. (Refer Chapter five from Andrea Robinsons “Great Wines made Simple”.) And excited to validate country of origin as a nifty predictor of wine style. The one deviation I made was choosing more modestly priced wines. As Andrea declares in her book, wine selections get pricier as you move forward in the tastings.  The Indie Wine Club, though, is not yet ready to break the bank. Perhaps in a few months when we acquire more education and refinement, we will be ready to invest big in what is presently a hobby for some and a very serious preoccupation for me.

Red or White – that was the question. For a mid-winter event, it had to be one of the Big Three Reds. Cabernets are my personal favorite. As I scoured the shelves at all of my wine sources – Trader Joes, Costco and Kahns Fine Wines in that order – my hunt yielded little that fit into our quality/price grid. A few Pinots, however, seemed promising. I settled on an Estancia 2010 Pinot Noir from Monterey Pacific Coast ($12.40) and a red Burgundy – Blason de Bourgogne 2009 – from France ($ 8.40). A  Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir from Chile ( $ 7 ) would serve as an out-of-the-tasting extra.

The results of the tastings were mixed when it came to popularity. Where the group scored big – a 100% – was in identifying the grape varietal. Clearly we were making progress as wine aficionados. Thank you Andrea. As for identifying the Old v/s New World, 50% got that right.

The bold, fruit forward, lush style of the California wine was very evident. As was the subtlety and understated-ness, if you will, of the Burgundy. Where the Blason de Bourgogne disappointed was in its lack of personality or distinctive character. It was silky, soft and quite pleasing on the tongue, but somewhat blasé and uninteresting, lacking complexity or distinction. The marked tanginess failed to add sparkle. As one of us theorized over the evening, with current exchange rates for the US Dollar v/s Euro, imports at the same price points probably tend to be somewhat inferior.The New World Wine won by a single vote on the deliciousness factor.

What this tasting did rather well is demonstrate the style differences – old world subtlety v/s new world boldness. I’ll drink to that!!

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