Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New World Vs. Old World

Don't worry, I'm not going to quote Donald Rumsfeld and we are not advocating "freedom fries." Actually we prefer "frites." The other night we tasted North Creek Vineyard Syrah from San Luis Obispo and Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape side by side. Of course, the comparison wasn't entirely fair since they were made from different grapes and were from different vintages, but it was an outstanding illustration of how new world wine and old world wine differ.

We started off with the North Creek from a magnum and it was delicious. Pure pleasure! Medium bodied with lots of fruit, but not a "fruitbomb" and not jammy in-your-face. After enjoying this California beauty we tasted the Chateauneuf du Pape. Initial impression: tannin, austere, not as much fun, not as much pleasure. However, after a few sips, it got a lot more interesting as we started to notice the nuance and complexity emerging from the more tannic structure. When we later returned to the North Creek, it seemed kind of flat and disappointing. Both these wines were great with the outstanding Lamb shanks in Port and Red Wine prepared by our friend Mary.

Moral of the story? Everything is relative and context is important. We would have been thrilled with either wine, but the contrast between them made the second wine, in either case, seem lesser. We have noticed that old world wine tastes more and more like new world wine and visa versa, but not in this case. Vive la differance!


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