Old World or New World: What’s Your Style

Lately I have seen a lot of discussion of an ongoing topic in the wine industry: old world style winemaking versus new world style winemaking; or as eloquently summed up in From Vino Verde to Barolo with Love’s recent blog posting, Hand or Land? In this thought provoking article Foxress explores different perspectives on wine making by wine writers while questioning is one style “better” than the other or are the styles just different. Foxress’ reflection on this ongoing topic came to my attention after I read another interesting reflection by Craig Camp on the style of Cabernet Sauvignon made by his Cornerstone Cellars. I am a huge fan of all the wines produced by Cornerstone Cellars; they are excellent quality and offer a superb drinking experience! In Craig Camp’s recent article, Curiously Cabernet, he explored the idea that a vast amount of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon’s have moved away from the classic terroir-centered style to a current over produced big wine dominated by over-ripe fruit, an abundance of sweet oak and high alcohol levels. As is the case in Foxress’s article, Camp suggested that the “hand” style of winemaking is in fashion; however, he prefered the “land” style in his Cornerstone Cellars wines.

Boneshaker zin (2)

Craig Camp is not the only California wine maker to reflect on the style of Cabernet Sauvignon in vogue with displeasure. Jordan Winery has made their statement in a wildly entertaining Star Wars parody just in time for Halloween. Please watch:

These reflections have led me to a wine sample I received last month, which is the wine reviewed below, and the question raised by both “Hand or Land” and the Texas Wineaux’s latest article Wine: In Pursuit of Balance. Is there a place for both styles of winemaking in the world of consumers? The answer to that question is easy: Yes! If the taste of consumers is measured in dollars spent than consumers indicate they like big wines. However, there are many consumers who prefer elegantly restrained wines. And to complicate matters some of those consumers may actually overlap. So does balance have to be found within each wine, or can we create our own balance between big and restrained wines by simply balancing how we enjoy both styles?  My point is this: I really enjoy an elegantly understated, terroir driven, restrained fruit Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling….I could go on and on. However, I can also enjoy a big Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Verdot….etc. I have even enjoy a few Napa Valley Pinot Noirs that I would consider big. I have reviewed a few and usually refer to them as Cab lovers Pinot Noir. These were palate pleasing rich Pinot Noirs; not a trace of Burgundy to be found.

Boneshaker ZinBoneshaker 2012 Zinfandel: This Lodi Zinfandel was crafted of 88% Zinfandel and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. It poured a deep rich garnet with purple and black highlights into the glass. After resting open for an hour the Boneshaker Zin intoxicated the nose with rich aromas of dark ripe berries, dark chocolate, espresso, wet tobacco leaves, baking spices and vanilla. This was not a subtle wine. On the palate this gregarious wine offered flavors of ripe blackberries, black raspberries, ripe black cherries and plums, along with round flavors of spice, pepper, wet underbrush, tobacco leaves, leather and coffee. Finally, on the back of the palate lingered flavors of black pepper and tobacco. This would certainly qualify as a big wine (even the rear label says it has “full-tilt flavors”); however, though the body was voluptuous it was countered with a round acidity and surprisingly restrained tannins. The Boneshaker 2012 Zinfandel saw 70% new French oak and 30% neutral oak; it contained 15% alcohol. This was every bit a new world, “hand” wine, and I liked it.

Boneshaker dinner

 

Boneshaker dinner prep

 

Boneshaker dinner prep2

The Boneshaker Zin paired perfectly with the lamb chops I prepared as an accompaniment. And I think this part is key to any style of wine: proper food pairings! I knew this zin was dark, fruit forward and heavily influence by new oak; therefore, I paired it with a meal that was up for the challenge. The herb crusted lamb chops were rich and flavorful; furthermore, the recipe included a sauce that pulled the lamb chops together with the sour cream mashed potatoes and the wine. My husband said he felt like he was in a restaurant; the wine and dinner were a perfect match! The recipe for the herb crusted lamb chops I prepared can be found on my Pinterest page. In addition to that recipe, a couple of other excellent recipes were provided to me by Culinary Adventures with Camilla and FoodWineClick; be sure to check out there delicious recipes too.

Boneshaker dinner2

Boneshaker is a part of the Hahn Family Wines. Hahn’s portfolio also includes Smith and Hook Cabernet Sauvignon (a big California Cab), as well as producing a variety of wines under the labels Hahn Winery, Pinot Noirs under Lucienne Vineyards and Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays under Hahn SLH Wines. The grapes that comprise the Boneshaker Zinfandel are grown from sustainably farmed vineyards Hahn family winesin Lodi, California. The suggested retail price is $25; however, it can be found for less, click here to locate this wine near you. I believe this Zinfandel will have mass appeal. It is great for barbecue and other rich, red meat meals. It will appeal to those who are looking for a big, uncomplicated wine and it will appeal to the more sophisticated palate that sometimes just wants to drink a wine with spunk instead of poise. I know a lot of people who would love this wine; and though I would not drink it every day, I would definitely drink it again!

My Song Selection: The song I have chosen to pair with the Boneshaker 2012 Zinfandel is I’m Shakin by Jack White. You have heard me say it before, Jack White is musical genius! He is original and magnificent. His music is big, full body, and very new world! So sometimes I will drink restrained old world style “land” wine with an elegant song from Frank Sinatra, Van Morrison or Tony Bennet but right now I am drinking a new world style “hand” Boneshaker Zinfandel and jamming out to Jack White!

Get your own bottle of Boneshaker 2012 Zinfandel and let me know what song you would pair with it. Cheers!

14 comments

  1. I love your wine descriptions, especially the use of the word ‘gregarious.’ I can’t think of a better way to describe a big Zin! Thanks for the shout out!

  2. I’d say yes to both land and hand. I’m huge into hand when it comes to Burgundy. Pinot’s too delicate and complex a wine that gets lost when hamhanded in the new world. And the Soil there adds so much to the Chard. That said, land isn’t always enough. there is still a lot of artistry needed to coax the best from the grapes.

    • I agree. When drinking wine from Burgundy one hopes and anticipates the terroir; however sometimes when drinking a Zin or Syrah more hand than land adds something that would otherwise not exist. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Great post, Michelle! I have long said that if a wine is well made (for me the key with big, fruit forward wines is that they have enough acidity), there is plenty of room for both styles, and I do like them both. My motto is drink what tastes good to YOU PERSONALLY, not what some wine snob thinks you should drink. Cheers!

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