A transatlantic celebration of the legendary 1976 Paris Tasting is going ahead in a blaze of publicity – despite the opposition of the Bordeaux elite.
The event is to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the ‘tasting that changed the world’, in which French tasters shocked the industry by choosing Californian wines above the best Bordeaux and Burgundy in a blind tasting.
It was originally set for Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, owned by the Rothschild family and once their family home.
But decanter.com understands that there has been some opposition from Bordeaux owing to the chateaux involved in the original tasting not wishing to have their wines tasted blind against Californian wines.
It has now been decided to taste the wines will be presented semi-blind – the panels will know which region but not which wine they are tasting.
Moreover the tasting will not now take place at Waddesdon but at Berry Brothers headquarters in St James’s Piccadilly in London, and later at the RAC Club, on 24 May.
Joint organiser Ben Howkins said there had been opposition to the recreation of the orginal tasting, but not to the later stages of the event when younger wines would be tasted.
Spurrier said he could understand this. ‘They are telling the world how fabulous the 2005 vintage is. They hardly want to be reminded of an event that was seen as the first crack in the wall of the French wine industry.’
The event will also be staged simultaneously at Copia in the Napa Valley, starting at 9.30am, while the London section starts at 5.30pm.
Spurrier said it would be in ‘four acts’: a recreation of the red section of the 1976 tasting (see below), tasted by panels of nine in Napa and London; a tasting of young white Burgundies and young California Chardonnays – most from the same domaines as the original, and six red California and six red Bordeaux; drinks at the RAC club, dinner with Opus One and Chateau Lafite and other ‘very classy wines’; and lastly the announcement of the results.
It will be conducted in the full glare of the media. A film to be shown on the BBC’s flagship news programme Newsnight, slated for this Tuesday 2 May, will look at the history of the tasting, and TV and radio will cover the event on both sides of the Atlantic.
The cream of the wine world makes up the panels, including Michael Broadbent and Serena Sutcliffe, Matthew Jukes and Jancis Robinson in London, and New York Times stalwart Frank Prial, wine writer Dan Berger, Decanter’s own California expert Stephen Brook, and original judge Christian Vanneque in Napa.
Vanneque will be the only veteran of the original panel judging in either location. Spurrier said many of the original panel had been asked but had declined the invitation.
As for how the wines will fare second time round, Spurrier said it was no contest. ‘I tasted the Stag’s Leap a year ago and it hasn’t held up, and Paul Draper of Ridge said if it was his 1970 he might have stood a chance, but not with his 71.
‘So, finally the French will win.’
United States – Chateau Montelena 1973
France – Meursault Charmes Roulot 1973
United States – Chalone Vineyard 1974
United States – Spring Mountain Vineyard 1973
France – Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin 1973
United States – Freemark Abbey Winery 1972
France – Batard-Montrachet Ramonet-Prudhon 1973
France – Puligny-Montrachet Les Pucelles Domaine Leflaive 1972
United States – Veedercrest Vineyards 1972
United States – David Bruce Winery 1973
United States – Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973
France – Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970
France – Château Haut-Brion 1970
France – Château Montrose 1970
France – Château Leoville Las Cases 1971
United States – Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971
United States – Mayacamas Vineyards 1971
United States – Clos Du Val Winery 1972
United States – Heitz Wine Cellars ‘Martha’s Vineyard’ 1970
United States – Freemark Abbey Winery 1967
Written by Adam Lechmere