The first Judgment of Paris, held in 1976, sent shockwaves through the wine world when nine French wine experts declared through a blind tasting that wines from California were as good as, or better than, the best of the wines from French vineyards. Such was the standard of the California wines that some judges professed to be unable even to discern which wines were French and which American.
This event will be commemorated with a celebratory recreation today, as The Tasting that Changed the Wine World: “The Judgment of Paris” 30th Anniversary when two panels of wine aficionados will gather simultaneously—one at COPIA in California’s renowned Napa Valley, the other at Berry Bros. & Rudd in London.
The nine California panelists will include Dan Berger, Anthony Dias Blue, Stephen Brook, Wilfred Jaeger, Peter Marks MW, Paul Roberts MS, Andrea Immer Robinson MS, Jean-Michel Valette MW and Christian Vanneque, one of the original judges from the 1976 tasting. Patricia Gastaud-Gallagher will serve as the USA Panel Chair. Special guest George Taber, author of Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine, will also be in attendance.
The pre-eminent European contingent includes France’s Michel Bettane, Britain’s Michael Broadbent MW, Michel Dovaz, Hugh Johnson, Matthew Jukes, Jane MacQuitty, Jasper Morris MW, Jancis Robinson OBE MW and Brian St. Pierre will congregate at Berry Bros. & Rudd. Steven Spurrier will serve as the UK Panel Chair.
The panelists will simultaneously swirl, sniff, sip and spit their way through a blind tasting of the original reds sampled at the legendary tasting in Paris, then work their way through a comparative tasting of younger vintages of red and white wines from the same and similar estates. The results will be simultaneously announced at a luncheon at COPIA and a dinner at Berry Bros. & Rudd.
The First Flight will consist of the original Judgment of Paris wines, including six Cabernet Sauvignon from California: Clos du Val 1972, Freemark Abbey 1969, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard 1970, Mayacamas 1971, Ridge Monte Bello 1971 and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973; and four Bordeaux: Château Haut-Brion 1970, Château Léoville-Las-Cases 1971, Château Montrose 1970 and Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970.
California Chardonnay: Chateau Montelena 2003, Mount Eden 2002, Patz & Hall Hyde Vineyard 2004, Peter Michael Point Rouge 2003, Ramey Hyde Vineyard 2002 and Talley Rosemary’s Vineyard 2002.
White Burgundy: Bâtard Montrachet Grand Cru 2002, Louis Latour; Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Mouches 2002, Domaine Drouhin; Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Caillerets 2002, Louis Jadot; Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2003, Domaine Bonneau du Martray; Meursault Premier Cru Charmes 2002, Domaine Roulot; and Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru Les Pucelles 2002, Domaine Laflaive.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Clos du Val Reserve 2000, Joseph Phelps Insignia 2002, Ridge Monte Bello 2000, Shafer Hillside Select 2001, Staglin Family Vineyard 2001 and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23 2001.
Red Bordeaux: Château Haut-Brion 2000, Château Latour 2000, Château Léoville-Las-Cases 2001, Château Margaux 2000, Château Montrose 2000 and Château Rausan-Ségla 2000.
British wine writer and author Steven Spurrier, who put on the original tasting in honour of the bicentennial of the American Revolution, said: “The results of the original tasting sent shock waves through the wine world and worked to change the perception of new world wines forever. These Californian upstarts completely surprised the French establishment, sparking off an exchange of ideas that has now created a golden age for wine drinkers across the globe.”
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