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Judgment of Paris’ 40th anniversary celebrations: Contra Costa Times

By  Mary Orlin

In the wine world, there is “before the Paris tasting” and “after the Paris tasting.”

Before May 24, 1976, French wines ruled the world, and there were about 67 wineries in Napa Valley.

On the day of the “Judgment of Paris,” nine top wine judges sat at a long, white linen-covered table at Paris’ InterContinental Hotel, tasting 10 white and 10 red wines blind. The French judges knew some wines were from France and some from California, but they were confident that the French wines would win.

Instead, California’s wines triumphed.

Much has been written about the watershed event, of course. Time magazine correspondent George M. Taber, the only journalist present at the judging, broke the news and went on to write the “Judgment of Paris.” The 2008 movie “Bottle Shock” recounted the tale with a cast that included Alan Rickman, Chris Pine and Bill Pullman. A movie based on Taber’s book and directed by Robert Kamen is due out next year.

And 40 years later, that tasting still matters.

“The Paris tasting is a bell out there that keeps ringing for winemakers, to invite them to explore how to get the most beauty from their fruit and how to express. I was glad to be a part of it,” says Warren Winiarski, who made the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon that won the red tasting four decades ago.

When Winiarski aramalar first heard his wine had won, he remembers Wholesale Miami Dolphins Jerseys saying, “That’s nice.” Looking wholesale NBA jerseys back now, he says, “My response was not sufficient for the occasion.”

Indeed, the Judgment of Paris was the turning point for California’s wine industry. Today there are nearly 500 wineries in Napa, and wine is made in every American state.

“It proves that you don’t need French soil to make great wine,” says Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, who made the prizewinning white wine, the Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay. Grgich went on to open Grgich Hills in 1977.

Most people think the six California chardonnays and six cabernet sauvignon wines in the blind tasting came from Napa Valley. But one wine came from Monterey County — Chalone Vineyard 1974 Chardonnay — and two hailed from the South Bay’s David Bruce Winery and Ridge Vineyards. Paul Draper’s Ridge 1971 Monte Bello, sourced from his Cupertino estate vineyard, scored fifth among the reds.

While the tasting results shot Napa into the limelight, the impact on the Santa Cruz Mountains was much quieter. But decades after the original tasting, the Ridge ’71 Monte Bello wine came out on top in a Judgment of Paris 30th anniversary rematch. In fact, California wines took the top six scores, an outcome that answered the one remaining question from the Paris tasting: Would California wines age as well as their French counterparts?

The Judgment of Paris wine tasting at the InterContinental Hotel in Paris, May 24, 1976. George turó M. Taber (far left), Time correspondent, was the only journalist in attendance observing the French wine judges reactions. He broke the news of the tasting and later wrote a book about the historic event. Photo wholesale NBA jerseys credit: Courtesy Bella Spurrier ( Mary Orlin )

They could — and they did.

Draper says the winery still has six bottles and several magnums of the ’71 Monte Bello. He tasted it a few Cameras weeks ago. “The ’71 was very elegant, yet Stilfserjochstra?e full,” he says, and wholesale NBA jerseys if the wines were retasted on the 40th anniversary, he believes his wine would easily win again. “The Monte Bello ages as well as or better than the first growth Bordeaux and is of equally high quality.”

The 1973 David Bruce Winery Estate Chardonnay, made from Los Gatos grapes, was also part of the Paris tasting lineup. The wine placed last, but the winery “earned an international reputation for its dedication to producing some of the greatest pinot noir and chardonnay in the world,” wholesale NBA jerseys David Bruce says.

Bruce has just three bottles left, and the last time he tasted the wine was in 2011. “The wine aged gracefully, and the palate was PlayStation luscious,” he says, “an experience to behold.”

Now Grgich is looking ahead to “Judgment the Judgment of Paris’ 50th anniversary. cheap nfl jerseys “I hope,” he says, “the governor will make it a holiday.”

Judgment of Paris Celebrations

The 40th anniversary 2017 of the groundbreaking Paris wine tasting on May 24 wholesale jerseys is being celebrated with retrospective tastings and wine dinners in California and Washington, D.C. Here’s just a sampling:

Judgment of Paris winery passport: Five Napa wineries that participated in the Paris tasting are offering a passport program through May 26 with elevated tastings at Chateau Montelena, Clos du Val, Freemark Abbey, Spring Mountain Vineyard and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. Passports $200; www.cellarpass.comFlavor Napa Valley: Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars will be honored during a retrospective tasting and dinner on March 17. Details:

Grgich Hills Estate: The winery will celebrate Miljenko “Mike” Grgich’s 93rd birthday on April 1. Grgich’s autobiography, “A Glass Full of Miracles,” will be released in April to commemorate the Paris tasting’s 40th anniversary. Details: 1829 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford;
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Throughout May, the winery will offer an S.L.V. Library wholesale jerseys Tasting ($125) in honor of the 40th anniversary, with wines from the 1980s to current vintages. George M. Taber will sign his “Judgment of Paris” book at the winery on May 22, and the winery is hosting an anniversary party May 24. Details: 5766 Silverado Trail, Napa;

Smithsonian Institution: The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, which has a bottle of the 1973 Chateau Montelena and the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon in its collection, will host two anniversary events. Bo Barrett (Chateau Montelena), Violet Grgich (Grgich Hills) and Warren Winiarski (Stag’s Leap) will participate in a “Judgment of Paris & American Wine” panel discussion on May 16 and attend a winemakers dinner on May 17. Details:

Chateau Montelena: The winery will wholesale MLB jerseys hold an open house party to commemorate its victorious Paris Filming tasting on May 24 at the winery, 1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga;

Auction Napa Valley: Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars will offer an auction lot on June 4 that will include one bottle each of the 1973 Chardonnay and 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon that won the Judgment of Paris tastings. Details:

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