Back in May, Bristol Wine Blog remembered a famous event in the wine world that had occurred 40 years earlier, in 1976: the tasting that has come to be known as the ‘Judgement of Paris’. A young Englishman, Steven Spurrier, living and working in Paris, invited a group of renowned French judges – restauranteurs, producers and wine writers – to compare (blind) a selection of top Californian wines – Chardonnays and Cabernets – with leading Burgundies and Bordeaux. The expectation was that the French wines would win easily. Only it didn’t work out like that!
So, what would happen if a similar tasting took place today? Great Western Wines in conjunction with Bath’s Allium Restaurant decided to find out. They organised an anniversary dinner including recent vintages of the 2 winning wines, the most prestigious of the losers and, to make things interesting, a couple of other ‘mystery’ wines. With the chance to taste such potential delights, my wife and I were quick to book tickets.
The dinner, good though it was, was always going to play second fiddle to the tastings which, mimicking the original event, comprised a group of Chardonnays and another of Cabernet Sauvignons (or Cabernet dominated blends), all, of course, tasted blind. Everyone present was invited to vote for their 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each category and the results were added up.
Among the Chardonnays, the Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru ‘Les Pucelles’ (£210) gained revenge on the Chateau Montelena Napa Chardonnay (£43.50) this time, but both were beaten by the 3rd wine, Koo Yong’s Faultline Chardonnay from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula (£29.50).
The story was the same with the Cabernet Sauvignons. Stag’s Leap SLV (£98) from California failed to repeat its earlier success. Indeed, it, too, finished 3rd in its group behind the winning Château Mouton-Rothschild (£400) and the Cyril Henschke from Eden Valley in South Australia (£62).
A wonderful evening and a rare opportunity to taste some great wines – several at prices that I wouldn’t normally think of spending on a single bottle. But, perhaps, more importantly, the chance to be part of an event commemorating a tasting that changed the face of the wine world for ever.
(The prices shown are those quoted by Great Western Wine. For more information, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org).