Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Les Trouillardes

The big day came, but most of the French ducked:

SAN FRANCISCO, May 24, 2006 (AFP) - French wines dethroned by California vintages in a landmark blind taste test in Paris 30 years ago will get a chance to reclaim their crown on Wednesday.

A rematch of "Judgment of Paris," billed as the most famous wine tasting in history, will take place simultaneously in the heart of California's premier wine country and in Britain oldest wine and spirits merchant.

Panelists swirling, sniffing, sipping, and spitting at Copia center for food and wine in Napa Valley will include Christian Vanneque, who was a judge at the historic tasting on May 24, 1976.

"Some of the Brits and the French are expecting the older French wines to beat the pants off the California cabernets," Copia's wine master Peter Marks said, citing a "classic paradigm" that French wines age better.

....A "pre-eminent European contingent" headed by renowned British wine writer Steven Spurrier will rate the resurrected vintages at the same time at Berry Brothers and Rudd in London.

....Napa Valley wineries putting their championship status on the line included Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, which finished first in 1976 with its 1973 cabernet.

Bordeaux wines being uncorked for the rematch included 1970 vintages from Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Chateau Montrose and Chateau Haut-Brion, and a 1971 Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases.

In a bow to diplomacy, and to assuage fears of embarrassment by vintners on both sides, only the original red wines will compete head-to-head.

Formidable French vintners reportedly refused to be contenders unless Bordeaux was compared to Bordeaux and California wine to California wine, without the twain meeting.

Marks downplayed the reluctance of wineries to duke it out on tasters' tongues, and portrayed the anniversary tasting as a celebration instead of a grudge match.

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