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Mar 2, 2007 12:04 PM

Old world vs New World generalizations

In the few months that I have been following this board, the one thing I have heard repeatedly is to avoid broad generalizations, very common among us newcomers. I think I now understand why. In the past, I had made some comments that my wife and I preferred OW wines over NW, based on our relatively limited experiences with both. We much preferred a white burgundy over its NW counterpart and preferred the wines of France and Italy over California wines. I just assumed that this would not change. Well, my attitude was changed last night. We opened up a bottle of Pinot Noir from Foley Estates. It was a 2005 Rancho Santa Rosa from the Santa Rita Hills. We were not really expecting much until my wife took her first sip and said "Wow, this is amazing!". It was a great wine, with a terrific fragrance and one of the best we have tasted. Now I have to throw out all my generalizations. This journey of exploration is getting fun. Any recommendations for other Pinot Noirs?

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  1. For a good test of whether you like New World pinots, try some Williams Selyem.

    Broad generalizations are essential to making sense of wine. You just have to keep in mind that they're broad, and thus there are lots of exceptions.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Robert, just out of curiousity, have you tried anything from Foley? I am wondering if I lucked out an picked an exceptional producer or of I picked an average producer where things can only get better.

      1. re: bobby06877


        Generally speaking, Santa Barbara pinots are too ripe and alcoholic for my taste, so I don't taste a lot of them.

        1. re: bobby06877

          William Foley and his brother, Robert, do some very interesting wines, though I do not recall any project recently, that they have done together. While I have not sampled their complete portfolios, everything that I've had has been good.

          The only complaint that I have of the William Foley wines, is in the choice of many of the bottles. Their Chards and some of their PNs are in bottles, that will not fit into most shelving. They will not balance in an X-bin, and really need to take up space in the magnum section, though they are only 0.750s. Why do winemakers DO that? I can understand the low-end wines, that have to compete on the shelf with odd bottles, but give me a break - three sizes/shapes would fit all varietals, and they should fit into normal shelving. (Oops, guess that that was a rant, and should not be part of this thread).


          1. re: bobby06877

            Foley is known as an exceptional producer.

            Also from down that way, but in a more "Old World" style would be the Pinot Noirs from Arcadian.

        2. Generalizations are really good for that - throwing out! Glad your explorations have led you to some different conclusions. That is exactly what wine appreciation is all about. Keep us posted.


          1. To me the most accurate generalization regarding Old vs. New World wine is that OW wines are produced with food pairing in mind and NW wines are produced to be consumed on their own. You're much more likely to see an American drink a California chardonnay on it's own (as a cocktail) than a Friulian drink a Tocai Friulano solo.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Husky

              . . . or an American drink a Tocai Friuliano solo! ;^)

            2. Try some more pinots from the Santa Rita Hills AVA. Sea Smoke, Brewer-Clifton, Fiddlehead, Flying Goat, Rusack, Melville, Ampelos and Clos Pepe to name a few. Better yet, drive the "loop" and visit them in person!

              The above producers fall in both camps (OW and NW) in terms of style of pinot. For example, Clos Pepe tends to be more Burgundian (lower alcohol, sublte fruit, earthy) compared to Ampelos which is very fruit forward, rich and a high alcohol content.

              But really, who's to say which style is better?

              Wine is one of the most subjective pleasures we have and I think it should be enjoyed with an incredibly open mind.

              Oh, in addition to another poster's suggestion (Williams-Selyem), I heartily recommend WesMar (daughter of Bert Selyem) and Porter Creek; both from the Russian River Valley.


              2 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Touche! Yes, I was confusing with other founder Burt Williams.

              1. Speaking of great California pinot noir...last night I had a bottle of 1999 Rochioli at Delfina in SF...and at $69, a great deal!