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Paris tasting recreated for 30th anniversary

The 1976 Judgement of Paris is to be recreated - this time with two panels in England and California, working simultaneously though video link.

Once again led by Steven Spurrier, the event is to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the original, known as 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.

The 1976 tasting was the inspiration of Spurrier, then a young wine merchant in Paris, now Decanter’s consultant editor.

The recreation will take place on 24 May at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire (once the Rothschild’s family home) and COPIA in Napa Valley, the wine & culinary arts centre.

The tasting will be held in three stages – initially a retasting of the original six cabernets from California, including the winning 1973 Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon together with Ridge Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon 1971, and four Bordeaux, including Châteaux Haut-Brion and Mouton-Rothschild 1970.

This will then be followed by a wider comparison of more recent vintages (probably the 2000s and 2001s) from the same and similar properties.

There will also be a tasting of classic Burgundy and Californian whites. The results will then be compiled and announced over a BAFTA-style awards dinner.

Ben Howkins, wine advisor to Lord Rothschild and present at the original tasting, told decanter.com, ‘The wine world has changed so much in the past 30 years, and this is really intended to be a celebration of all that has happened. It will be fascinating to see how the two panels differ in their opinions.’

Peter Marks, COPIA’s Director of Wine, said, ‘In holding the tasting simultaneously on two different continents, the boundaries that typically separate European and American palates vanish.’

The UK team includes Steven Spurrier, Jancis Robinson and Michael Broadbent, while the Californian contingent will include Stephen Brook, Wilfred Jaeger, Peter Marks MW and Christian Vanneque, one of the original judges from the 1976 tasting.

And does Spurrier expect the French to fare better this time around? ‘I fully expect the longevity of Bordeaux to show up well in the first round of tasting. But it’s wide open for the more recent vintages.’

Written by Jane Anson

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