The Judgement of Paris: When The French Wines Competed With The American
The Judgement of Paris, 1976. It was a momentous event for the wine industry of the Napa Valley, California. British wine expert Steven Spurrier, who ran a L’Academie du Vin, a well-known wine school in Paris planned a blind wine tasting to introduce skeptics to quality Californian wines.
Spurrier surveyed and found out the best Californian contenders for both Chardonnay wines (white) and Cabernet Sauvignon wines (red) and celebrated French wineries were invited. Spurrier’s intention was to educate the French about American wines, which weren’t held in very high regards.The judging panel consisted of reputed Parisian restaurant owners, sommeliers and representatives from AOC Regulatory Board.
The California Chardonnays were pit against Burgundy whites and California Cabernet Sauvignon against the best of Bordeaux reds.
To everyone’s surprise, the California wines beat the French in both the red and white categories! The highest scores were garnered by two vintages from Napa Valley producers, the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.
The event was low-profile and poorly attended by the media, the only journalist that attended it was George Taber, who wrote the historic Time’s article “Judgement of Paris”(hence the name). The Paris tasting not only got fame to the Californian winners but helped place Napa Valley on the world wine map.