California Rivals the French!
Up until the mid 1900s, French wines were thought by many to be the best on the planet.
The turnaround in wine knowledge began when wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a Paris Wine Tasting in 1976. Spurrier, who ran a wine school, was hoping to gain some attention by comparing the US wines to the French.
The nine tasters were all French wine experts. They included famous culinary writers and the secretary general of the Association des Grands Crus Classes. The tasting was done blind.
First, the whites. The comparison was with chardonnay – matching French Burgundy against US Californian chardonnays. The winner was the Napa Valley 1973 Chateau Montelena. It beat out the 1973 Meursault-Charmes Burgundy to win. Third and fourth place also went to Californian chardonnays 1974 Chalone Vineyard and 1973 Spring Mountain Vineyard.
On to the reds. Spurrier knew that the Californian white had won, and panicked. The tasting progressed. The tasters, sure they could pick out the French wineries, began to make disparaging remarks about some of the “lesser quality US” wines. When the results were unveiled, the winner, to the chagrin of all present, was the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – from Napa Valley, California.
George Taber, Time magazine journalist was present for the tasting and wrote an article on the final results. The news made front page headlines in the United States, and a world which had long ignored the quality of US wines woke up and took notice.
In May 1996, on the 20th anniversary of the tasting, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington added a bottle of red and a bottle of white to their permanent collection, commemorating the Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap in its records of history.
Endless Wine Knows California Wine
We have the Napa Cabs, the Paso Zins, the Santa Barbara Pinots! Come taste with us and see why California deserves their rightful place on the World Map of winemaking regions!