Time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris!
And post #500 on Wine Predator! My first posts were in 2008 where I talked about the first Wine Bloggers Conference held in Santa Rosa, CA. Any day now, I will reach 90,000 page views.
And it’s been quite a climb to write 500 posts which average close to 1,000 words (we’re talking 500,000 words, yes?) hence the choice of Tercero’s 2010 “The Climb” to mark the occasion! (Read about other Tercero reds here and Tercero whites here).
I started blogging about wine not long after I started blogging in November 2007 with Art Predator. Like the Ojai/Ventura area newspaper column that proceeded it, Art Predator is an eclectic mix of that which engages the whole soul: art, music, poetry, food, wine, nature, and more in 1750 posts and nearly 625,000 page views.
Soon I realized that I should start a blog devoted to wine, food, and adventure, so I did and Wine Predator was born.
But my interest in wine starts well before that, and in fact, it leads back to the Judgement of Paris. And no, I don’t mean the painting!
Wikipedia says that “THE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS was a contest between the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympos–Aphrodite, Hera and Athena–for the prize of a golden apple addressed to “the fairest” The story begins at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis to which all of the gods were invited, all except Eris, the goddess of discord.”
But if you are into wine, you know that the Judgement of Paris is about the competition between French and American wine where American wines bested the French in an event that shocked the world and spawned Bottleshock, the film.
According to wikipedia, “The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the Judgment of Paris was a wine competition organized in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, in which French judges carried out two blind tastingcomparisons: one of top-quality Chardonnays and another of red wines (Bordeaux wines from France and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from California). A California wine rated best in each category, which caused surprise as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world’s best wines. Spurrier sold only French wine and believed that the California wines would not win.”
Just in case you’ve been living under a rock that pass 15 years, below’s the trailer of Bottle Shock, a feature film that stars the late Alan Rickman as Steven Spurrier and dramatizes the 1976 wine tasting; it debuted at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and appeared widely after that followed by home media sales.
A second film titled Judgment of Paris, based on George Taber’s book of the same name, is in production. George M. Taber was the only journalist who bothered to cover the tasting; his book of the same name and the screenplay follows the story of Steven Spurrier and the winemakers who produced the award-winning red that took top–honors, particularly Stag’s Leap and Chateau Montelena.
But what does the Judgement of Paris have to do with me?
I grew up loving my grandfather’s wine cellar (which you can read about here), and I inherited his passion for the land as well as his passion for wine. He loved it when I started working in the tasting room for Ridge Vineyards and started storing wine in his cellar. I was a struggling college student, so even with my discount I didn’t have much to store (I did get my fair share of tasting room bottles at the end of each Saturday!) By 2001 on New Year’s Eve at Yosemite’s Ahwanhee Hotel , we drank the final bottle: a 1980 Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon.
Yes, one of the wines from the Judgement of Paris which I learned about when I was at Ridge… all be it a few years older!
And how was that 1980 bottle of Ridge? Well, I’ll say that in the room, it was a wine that got a lot of attention! Everyone wanted to know how it was. And every one knew about the Judgment of Paris (even pre-Bottleshock!) I’d like to say that it was spectacular, but it was merely great, and so we were generous and shared. It was bit vegetal for me, but very smooth and fortunately, not too oxidized.
But even before I bought that 1980 Ridge, I had another Judgement of Paris wine in my cellar: a 1979 Stag’s Leap that I bought for $15 at the tasting room on a trip with my former husband (read more about this and other Stags Leap library wines here). Which explains why it is still in the cellar: we were going to drink it together yet we live in opposite ends of the state. He told me years ago to drink the wine we had collected, but this bottle, and a few other 80s gift bottles, remain which makes me more than a bit nervous after tasting a number of older Ojai Vineyard wines.
Want to get in on the Judgement of Paris act on this 40th anniversary?
You have two more days for a “Passport Program” with other Judgment of Paris Wineries (ends May 26, 2016). Cost is $200/per person for an “elevated” tasting at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Chateau Montelena Winery, Freemark Abbey, Spring Mountain Vineyard, and Clos du Val.
Or do your own “Judgement of Paris” Party! Here’s how!
Blind tasting was performed and the judges were asked to grade each wine out of 20 points, so you could do that too! No specific grading framework was given, leaving the judges free to grade according to their own criteria.
Rank Grade Wine Vintage Origin
1.Chateau Montelena1973 USA (2011 SRP $65)
2.Meursault Charmes Roulot1973 France
3.Chalone Vineyard1974 USA
4.Spring Mountain Vineyard1973 USA
5.Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin1973 France
6.Freemark Abbey Winery1972 USA
7.Batard-Montrachet Ramonet-Prudhon1973 France
8.Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles Domaine Leflaive1972 France
9.Veedercrest Vineyards1972 USA
10.David Bruce Winery1973 USA
USA – Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971 (2012 retails for $175)
USA – Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 (1979 SRP $15)
USA – Mayacamas Vineyards 1971 (tie)
USA – Heitz Wine Cellars ‘Martha’s Vineyard’ 1970 (tie) (SRP 2010 $225)
USA – Clos Du Val Winery 1972 (2011 SRP $375)
France – Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970
France – Château Montrose 1970
France – Château Haut-Brion 1970
France – Château Leoville Las Cases 1971
USA – Freemark Abbey Winery 1969 (SRP $100)
Watch the film and hold your own Judgement of Paris by tasting 4-6 whites and 4-6 reds with 2 or 3 coming from France and 2 or 3 coming from California.
At the original tasting they did 10 but the more wines, the more expensive it will be. 10-12 people would be good although an event like this could handle 14 or 15 people if they are all interested in taking this seriously but unless you have unlimited funds, you will need people to chip in $$ for wine and food, about $30 or so for wine and $10 for food.
The wines you may interested in tasting retail from $30-40 for the whites and $50-100 each for the reds (to replicate the tasting with current vintages, the wines would cost from $65-400). Est. Wine Cost: 10 bottles x $45 ave. = $450 divided by 10 people = $45 each
You might ask people to weigh in with their opinion:
A. fewer wines/cheaper price
B. more wines/more money
C. cheaper wines/cheaper price
To pair with the wine and to snack on during the film, focus on finger foods, things to eat while watching — maybe some for the whites, then for the reds like gourmet mini-pizzas, pesto and white pizzas with whites and red sauce and such for the reds.
You could even do a contest to see which pizzas pair best! Consider doing a caprese salad or a caesar salad (anchovies and cheese on the side), bread, cheese, olives etc. Of course a nice steak, braised beef, or trip roast would be good with those reds…
So what will I be opening for the anniversary of the Judgment of Paris? Will a group of us get together and do a Judgment of Paris tasting? Stay tuned!
PS Sorry about the hiatus! I teach college and it’s been finals plus we’ve been having plumbing problems and other drams! But Que Syrah Sue and I have been tasting and taking notes, and I’ve attended a number of events in LA, so there’s lots of content in store now that school is out and my grades are in!
There’s lots of wine to come!
- Lots about Santa Barbara County Chardonnay from a seminar I attended last week at LA’s Republique plus some tasting notes for Thursday’s Chardonnay Day,
- Lots about Albarino from Galicia Spain from April and May’s #WineStudio educational events,
- And, just in time for June weddings and graduations, lots about Champagne using notes from the Champagne seminar I attended two weeks ago ‘s in LA at Wine House.
And happy May birthday to Que Syrah Sue! Thanks so much for all you do to keep this blog rolling!