Paris. 1976. These two words mean a lot to a certain class of wine lover. If they don't mean much to you then here's a quick synopsis. That place, that year, a reporter from time magazine attended a rather small blind tasting which pitted California wines (Chardonnays and Cabernets) against French Bordeaux and White Burgundy. The tasters were French wine experts, and after tasting they all felt certain of which wines were superior and that the ones they had selected were French. Well, they were wrong about the last part. A California Cabernet and Chardonnay ended up on top for the first time in history. Many people consider this to be the turning point for California wine's acceptance in the broader world, and the event that paved the way for the ascendancy of Napa to the status it carries today.
This Spring marks the 30th anniversary of that tasting, and they are holding it again. With the same wines. Except one country's winemakers want to change the rules. It ain't the Americans.
Can you smell the fear? I can. And so can Mark Fisher, in his post about it on Wine Sediments recently. Due to pressure from the Bordelaise -- the big Chateaux owners whose wines will be tasted against the Californian wines -- the event will no longer be a blind tasting. Instead every judge will know whether they are tasting a California wine or a French wine before they raise the glass to their lips. For some reason, the French are scared that the outcome will be the same as it was thirty years ago.
Now the tasting, which I was so excited about, and planning to try to attend before I heard this latest news, is now a farce. A poorly executed stunt. A sham.
Of course, one can make too big a deal of such things, and easily get wrapped up in the competition of the event, which is beside the point. In my mind, the point would be to honor the spirit of the original event and honestly discover how these famous wines have aged -- the outcome being much more instructive than it will be competitive.
It just seems silly to call it a recreation of the event and then go and change the rules, doesn't it? If the wine world were dominated by women, this sort of thing would never happen. Men's egos tend to get wrapped up in the silliest of things, wine not the least of them.
I tend to agree with Mark when he says the judges, all of them respectable wine journalists of the highest caliber, should refuse to participate unless the rules are changed back.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Vinography Images: Rising Light Book Review: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert The Beauty of 2011 Burgundy: Highlights from La Paulee de San Francisco Seven Percent Solution Tasting: May 8, San Francisco Vinography Images: Autumn Cellar Vinography Images: Vines and Sky Are You a Red, Pink or a Purple Wine Stater? 2014 TAPAS Iberian Varieties Tasting: April 27, San Francisco Taste Washington Day One in Brief Vinography Images: Trailing Vine
Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 KirÃ¡lyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy