The Judgement of Paris:  A Brief History - Order Wine Online

The Judgement of Paris: A Brief History

2023 年 Mar 07 日Michael Bozzelli

(Updated February 12, 2024)


The Judgment of Paris was a blind tasting competition held in Paris in 1976 that pitted French wines against American wines. It was organized by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant and budding wine critic at the time and was intended to showcase the quality of California wines, which were not yet widely recognized as being even comparable with French wines. California was just not on the wine map.

The tasting was conducted by a panel of French wine experts, who tasted and graded the wines without knowing which wine was which. The wine world was left aghast when the winners were announced. The panel passed over the French wines and awarded the top honors to a couple of California wines - a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. Taste and quality supplanted tradition and terroir. It was the equivalent to the L.A. Lakers losing to the Jamaican bobsled team in basketball. For centuries France had been the golden boy of the wine world canonized for bordeaux and burgundy wines and out of nowhere two obscure California wines took home the silverware.  I was also pleased to learn about another California winery that may not have taken home any trophies but was a runner up; Freemark Abbey Winery, part of wine behemoth, Jackson Family Estates was also featured.  The complexity of their chardonnay was duly noted by the judges.  

The California wines that won and the California wine industry never looked back after that auspicious moment in Paris. California now dwarfs all other wine industries in the world on a dollar-for-dollar basis. For instance, the California wine industry contributed almost $60 billion to the State of California's economy in 2019 while France's wine industry generates $32 billion to the country's GDP when the Euro, France's currency, is adjusted to dollars.

As Tupac sang in his anthem "California Love" and Steve Spurrier who organized the Paris of Judgement would have agreed if alive today--"California, No Doubt About It."


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