Do you want to know when California became a force to be reckoned with in the wine world? It was May 24, 1976. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History houses two bottles of California wine: A 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. These two wines are on display because they showed France and the rest of the world that California wines could be just as good – or in some cases better than France’s best Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays.
The book Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine is the true story of the now legendary Paris Tasting of 1976, where a panel of nine top French wine experts in a blind tasting shocked the wine industry by choosing what was then unknown California wines over some of the best that France had to offer. This monumental moment in wine history was the catalyst that sparked the coming of age for California as a global powerhouse but it also opened up the door for serious winemaking ventures in places such as Argentina, Australia, Chile, South Africa and New Zealand. This small victory for California winemakers proved to the world that great wine could be produced outside of France’s borders with hard work, dedication, and a love of wine.
Judgment of Paris is a brilliantly written book that recounts the details of the historical 1976 blind tasting that took place at the InterContinental Hotel in Paris, France. The author, Mr. George Taber, certainly knows this topic very well since he was actually there to witness it. At the time of the wine tasting, Mr. Taber was a journalist for Time Magazine and the only writer to actually witness and cover this stunning upset that made history.
If you enjoy drinking California wines or ever wondered how California went from being recognized as a cheap jug winemaker to a respected American pioneer of world-class wines, I would recommend that you read this book.