• The difference between French and New World wines.

    French wine has over a thousand years of history. Over time tradition and regulation mould it into what it is today - a dozen of wine regions which are distinctive from one to another in wine style. Climate and topography form the fundamentals. Regulation completes the circle.

    The French are adamant that viticulture should be left to nature - irrigation is not allowed; use of machines are restricted; organic fertilisation (horse manure); harvests by hand, and so on.

    To create distinctive wine style region by region farmers are restricted to what grape variety they are allowed to plant - pinot noir and chardonnay for Burgundy; cabernet sauvignon and merlot for Bordeaux; syrah and grenache for Rhone Valley; etc.

    Thus, French wines are at the mercy of the elements, resulting in good or bad years - vintage. And the quest for quality over quantity. 

    When California started to plant vines a century ago, the farmers looked for 2 things to locate the farms - constant sunshine and immense expanse of land for the use of machines. Rainfall was never in the equation because one could alway drill ground water to irrigate. And there's freedom to grow any type of grape any where. 

    It would be the same rules for the rest of the New World producers in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Chile. 

    New World wines have achieved a wine style that is very different from French wines. With the abundance of sunshine the wines are generally full body, full of fragrance and tend to be higher in alcohol. They do not differ much from year to year. Vintage is not paramount, consistency is.

     

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