Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Big Three Oh Approaches

The anniversary of the catastrophic day:

LONDON, May 21, 2006 (AFP) - The year was 1976, and in Paris an English vintner, Steven Spurrier, organised an historic tasting that, in the world's wine circles, would be talked about forever after.

Nicknamed the "Judgment of Paris", it pitted France's top Bordeaux and Burgundies against American Cabernets and Chardonnays which, while well-regarded, were virtually unknown outside California.

The California wines won -- and France has never gotten over it.

....One judge, Odette Kahn, editor of "La Revue de Vin de France", demanded her scores back. Several cried foul. Others were scorned by wine industry colleagues -- and at least one may have been sacked from his sommelier job -- for shaming their country.

.... "The reaction of the French was one of complete disbelief and denial," Spurrier said.

.... "To this day, some of the judges -- like Aubert de Villaine (co-owner of the iconic Burgundy estate Domaine de la Romanee-Conti) -- refuse to discuss it." Wine columnists, shops and societies around the world continue to stage reincarnations of the original, as well as variations on the Old World versus New World theme to the ongoing consternation of the French.

Indeed, a high-profile tasting in Berlin in 2004 saw the likes of Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Margaux bested by two wines from Chile's Errazuriz wineries.

The only journalist--Time's George Taber--who accepted the invitation to attend, published The Judgment of Paris last year which tells the story of how a Stag's Leap cabernet and a Chateau Montelena chardonnay stunned the wine world 30 years ago.

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