Old World vs. New World

One of the most common ways to describe an individual wine is to categorize it as either “Old World”, (which generally means a wine from Europe or some other region with a longstanding tradition of cultivating wine grapes) or “New World” (from a place without such a tradition).  This type of assessment is not really meant to be geographic in nature; it is actually representative of a particular style of wine.

Old world wines are marked by balance and complexity.  The fruit is a little less ripe, but its subtlety allows for the emergence of many exotic peripheral flavors.  New world wines are known for rich, powerful fruit and intense focus on maybe just one or two dominant flavors.  These differences are both natural and discretionary, but in my opinion the terms “old world” and “new world” have probably survived because their corresponding wine styles are in some ways so closely connected to the agricultural realities of their regions that certain broad themes will appear in all the wines from that place regardless of any winemaker’s philosophy.  What qualities of the “old world” and “new world” are inextricably attached to their wines?  Consider factors like average temperature during the growing season, the composition of the soil and what type of minerals exist below that soil.