Paris Judgment

April 12, 2023 by
Maytte Rivera

The Judgment of Paris of 1976, also known as the Paris Wine Tasting, was a wine competition in which highly respected French judges blind tasted several top-quality wines from the finest producers in France against wines from Napa Valley, California. Organized by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier and his colleague Patricia Gallagher, it took place in Paris on May 24 of 1976 and it marked the beginning of a new era for the California wine industry.

The Chardonnay grape, native to Burgundy, was represented by several of the top wine producers of the region including Domaine Leflaive and Joseph Drouhin.  Imagine the surprise when a Napa Valley Chardonnay was chosen as the superior example of the grape, scoring the highest points of any of the wines presented in the competition, including the reds! The wine was Chateau Montelena 1973, crafted by Croatian winemaker Miljenko "Mike" Grgich.  Inspired by the event and his newfound fame, Mike established Grgich Hills Cellars in Napa Valley in 1977, and, to this day, continues to produce exquisite wines based mostly on Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

French red wines were represented by renowned Bordeaux First Growth chateaux including Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild. Once again, the winner was a Napa Valley wine, the Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “S.L.V” Cabernet Sauvignon 1973, vinified by the winery’s founder Warren Winiarski.  They continue to create outstanding red wines like the S.L.V, Artemis, Fay, and Cask 23.

What’s in a name? The moniker “Judgment of Paris” is derived from a story in Greek mythology that marked the beginning of the Trojan War… much like the animosity that began between these two wine producing countries after this historic tasting.

Author: Maytte Rivera

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