On a spring day in Paris in 1976, two wine spheres known as Old World and New World intersected in a most extraordinary and surprising way. What transpired transformed both worlds in one of the most significant wine events in history.
Because the result of the blind tasting was so unexpectedly and decidedly a game changer in elevating the profile of California wine, we pay tribute to the event – and the esteemed individuals who took part in that incredible moment nearly 45 years ago – later dubbed the Judgment of Paris.
A modern day interpretation, Judgment of Napa, has the enthusiastic endorsement of the Paris event organiser, author/vintner Steven Spurrier, and journalist George Taber, who reported on the landmark results. ‘On 24 May 1976, nine judges chose California wines above the top wines of France – and the rest is history. I should know, I was there,’ said Spurrier. ‘The Judgment of Napa will remind people of the Judgment of Paris, and also bring the event up to date.’
Conceived and presented by Napa Valley-based luxury concierge Angela Duerr and her Cultured Vine team, the Judgment of Napa will be held at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St Helena, California on 3 March 2021.
A 10-day roadshow will follow, bringing the event to wine lovers in Beverly Hills, Dallas, Palm Beach, Chicago and New York City.
We reflect how, in Paris, on the eve of America’s bicentennial in 1976, a panel of expert French judges compared French and American Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay in a blind tasting, awarding the top place in each category to the American wines.
American wines had previously been dismissed as inferior to their French counterparts, so the result validated the quality of California wines and shone a global spotlight on the New World. In 2020, Judgment of Napa will raise the stakes beyond France by conducting a blind-tasting competition between great Napa Valley wines and the best examples from around the world.
‘Most everyone is familiar with the amazing story of how the Judgment of Paris put Napa Valley and California wines on the map nearly 45 years ago,’ said Cultured Vine proprietor Angela Duerr. ‘Today’s wine lists and cellars would be immensely different if this momentous event had not taken place. Here in Napa Valley, Cultured Vine is proud to raise a glass in tribute to the Judgment of Paris as we reimagine that wine tasting in a new and meaningful way, involving legendary wines of the 21st century.’
Guests include: Andy Erickson, winemaker at Favia and Dalla Valle, formerly of Screaming Eagle and Harlan; Tim Mondavi of Continuum, a visionary who led the development of Napa Valley’s appellation system; Violet Grgich of Grgich Winery, vintner and daughter of Vintners Hall of Fame inductee and James Beard Award winner Mike Grgich, whose 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won at the Judgment of Paris; Andy Beckstoffer, renowned grape grower at historic vineyards including To Kalon, Dr Crane, Missouri Hopper, Las Piedras and George lll; Jean-Charles Boisset, innovator, entrepreneur and French vintner who operates 24 wineries in California; Aaron Pott, winemaker of some of today’s most sought-after wines, including Château Troplong Mondot, Château La Tour Figeac, Quintessa, Seven Stones, Blackbird, Perliss, Greer and Pott Wine; Angelina Mondavi, a pioneering, modern, fourth-generation winemaker and vintner for Aloft and Dark Matter; Joanne DePuy, the woman who ‘saved’ the Judgment of Paris.
Also attending: Tor Kenward, proprietor of TOR Wines; Clos Du Val winemakers Bernard Portet and Ted Henry; Ted Edwards, winemaker of Freemark Abbey; and Darioush Khaledi, proprietor of Darioush Winery. Andrea Immer Robinson, Master Sommelier, author and TV personality, will be a guest judge and moderate the event.