Welcome to our newest series, The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!
This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Tonya Pitts, Sommelier. Join us as we explore everything from her love of Champagne and her passion for the wine industry.
Tonya's Secret Stash
Read Our Interview With Tonya Pitts
The Somm Set Home
This week from Tonya Pitts:
I was head over heels with my first sip of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild for my 21st Birthday at Zimfel's Restaurant in St Louis. What a night that was! The quintessential ah-ha moment! There was no turning back. From St. Louis to San Francisco, my path has been illuminated with some of the best wine expressions from all over the world. These were my first sips and my first loves. I dare say, there have been many sips, and there have been many loves. My love for wines has been lifelong.
Recently, my virtual conversations have been the discussions of Old World vs. New World. First, we need to differentiate what it means. The Old World wines are technically wines produced in European and Mediterranean countries, which of course include France, Italy, and Spain. These regions have been producing wine since the beginning of time and created "benchmark" standards for quality and style. The wines can be characterized as terroir-driven, lower in alcohol, razor-focused minerality, and can require much more time in the cellar. In the age of climate change, this is now debatable, meaning it can be harder to discern old world versus new world. However, a defining characteristic I repeatedly find in old world wines is the presence of restrained fruit structure.
The counterpart, New World Wines, is just that. They were new uncharted territories, which settle over time, and wine enthusiasts have transplanted into a new landscape. This landscape could be similar or quite different from its place of origin. I have focused on New World regions such as the United States, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina more and more throughout my career. There are new designations and regions popping up every day, keeping our palates fresh and always experiencing something unique. New World wines tend to be fuller-bodied, have bolder fruit and higher alcohol. Even so, these wines are still age-worthy, and as they age, they become more like their Old-World Counterparts. The fruit aromas develop into more complex versions of themselves. It is not a race of the fittest, it's merely more options to tantalize your palate and broaden your sipping horizons. Join me in revisiting my old favorites and celebrating old loves.
Check out all the wines mentioned below!