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Old and New wine world: What are they and where is Bulgaria?

We see the concept of “Old” and “New” world quite often in the wine context. But do we know what exactly they mean and which countries are standing behind them?

It is logical that the Old world is the one with a longer history and tradition in wine making – Europe, Lebanon, Israel and Georgia, and all the others belong to the New world: Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, USA, South Africa. The last ones cultivate grape for wine only for the last 200-250 years and most of the varieties are imported from immigrants from the old world. On the other hand, nowadays new and unknown producing areas like UK, China and India which are yet to be categorized, show up. They are still defined as new latitude wines.

The separation between Old and New world is more or less symbolic and aims to emphasize on the difference in styles. Wines from the Old world are from cooler climates (however, this does not count for Spain, South Italy and Greece for instance), therefore they have elegant and aromatic character, not compulsive with low alcohol and are more mineral than those from the New world. Conversely, they are thicker, fruity with expressed aroma profile and high alcohol, often similar to marmalade in terms of red wines. State of Oregon, New Zealand and Chile are exceptions, because the characteristics of their wine varieties are closer to those from the Old world. Often, wine produced from new wine nations has more active human intervention included in the process: more oak, experimentation, mainly machining and big modern production lines. Whereas, European wine varieties reveal more from the terroir, there are strict regulations and as a result wines are more “natural” and “organic”. 

The new world does not have its own varieties, but only those that have been grown in Europe for centuries and subsequently have been imported. Examples include all known wines from the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (brought by the French Loire), Chardonnay from California (native of Burgundy), Riesling from Australia (“imported” from Germany) or South African Syrah (again of French origin). The difference in the styles of these wines is huge. For example, the New Zealand Sauvignon is very fragrant, airy and fruity, unlike its French equivalent, which reveals aromas of grass, elder and is much more mineral. Sometimes when compared, they differ so much that they cannot be identified as of the same variety.

Where is Bulgaria on that map? Although geographically it belongs to the Old world, its’ wines are rather mixed styles. Some, like chardonnay (https://viavinera.bg/bg/collection/1-castellum) or cabernet sauvignon (https://viavinera.bg/bg/collection/5-via-vinera), are much closer to their French counterparts, while many other international varieties are a mixture of old and new styles, or fully reflect the modern approach to wine making. The good thing about this is that we do not have to try wines from other countries as we can find them all on the local market…

VIA VINERA CASTELLUM BULGARIAN HERITAGE CONTOUR