Old World Chardonnay vs. New World Chardonnay

Old World versus New World wine. What's the difference? Recently, Time For Wine taught a class that answered exactly that question. We looked at a varietal comparison and examined why wines made from the same grape taste so different when grown in other areas around the world.

The real difference? Location, location, location!

Old World wines come from long-established winemaking countries (Europe being the primary source). New World wines refer to wines from countries that are newer to the winemaking game. Keep reading for a side-by-side comparison of Old World and New World chardonnay!

The Origin of Wine

It is true that most all grapes originated in Europe when wine was first produced. Wines dating back to 5000 BC came from all around the Mediterranean Sea, including from thew Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The true root stock of vines named “vitis vinifera” birth the grapes we now call Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and so many others.

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Old World vs. New World

The Old World claims it fame for winemaking in countries like Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Germany to name just a few of the most popular. All of these countries produce great wines that we now enjoy and cherish.

Many of these grapes made their journey to the New World countries to begin a start with winemaking. These countries now include the United States, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, and Chile.

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Side-by-Side Chardonnay Tasting

At our Teach n' Taste class, our guests were pleasantly surprised to discover the differences between an Old World chardonnay versus a New World chardonnay. The origin of Chardonnay is in France, specifically the Burgundy region called Chablis.

We tasted our Albert Bichot 2015 Vintage as a prime example of an Old World chardonnay, straight from the heart of France. We found it to be crisp with herbal and citrus notes and a wonderful mouth feel with a phenomenal finish. The New World Chardonnay we tasted was from Napa Valley called N.A.P.A. NV Chardonnay, thanks to Paul Scotto from his winery. The taste was so remarkably different from the Old World wine. We tasted soft vanilla notes and smelled floral aromas. We paired both chardonnays with a chicken dish.

Each guest had the same reaction: Why do these wines taste so different?

The difference in taste profiles come down to the winemaking technique and the soil in which the grapes are grown. In Old World tradition, we find wines to be leaner, more subtle, lighter in alcohol and with more minerality and earthiness. New World traditions offer riper fruit with a more rounded mouthfeel and slightly higher alcohol levels. Warmer climates give yield to bolder wines with fruit-forward presence and palate-pleasing taste.

In Old World, they stay the course with tradition and regulations that follow strict winemaking guidelines that desire food to be part of the whole experience of wine enjoyment. New World winemakers are free to experiment and create much broader style of wines that are pleasing to many young wine drinkers and become a trend for restaurants and Chefs as they prepare unique dishes and appetizer plates to pair with each wine.

Our California wines are world known, especially Chardonnay from Russian River AVA and Napa Valley. The latter won the best wine category in 1976 at the Taste of Paris in a blind tasting among chefs and wine experts. It actually put California on the “Wine Map” and has kept that trend going ever since.

Don’t give up as you follow your Wine Journey - Taste grapes from around the World!

Salud!