The RE-Judgement of Paris

We’ve all known it would happen some time. Thirty years hence is as good a time as any, I suppose. Yet, I can’t help but think it’s being undertaken as a form of vengeance, rather than what it’s being called: "A Celebration".

Decanter Magazine reports that the famed Paris Tasting of 1976 will be recreated, this time simultaneously on two continents and hooked together via video link. The original tasting, when French tasters choose California wines over French wines in a comparative tasting, was the ultimate wine PR coup. It was widely reported on and both raised the reputation of California wines while bringing into question the supposed dominate position of French wines. It changed everything.

The 30th anniversary recreation will feature the same wines that were originally poured as well as a comparative tasting of wines from the 2001 and 2000 vintage from both countries. Steven Spurrier, the man who organized the first tasting and who will be on hand for the new one, believes the French will finally be vindicated:

"I fully expect the longevity of Bordeaux to show up well in the first
round of tasting. But it’s wide open for the more recent vintages."

Meanwhile, Ben Howkins, the "wine advisor" to Lord Rothschild, is lowering expectations going in: "The wine world has changed so much in the past 30 years, and this is
really intended to be a celebration of all that has happened."

I wondering if the French really see the original tasting and what has transpired since as a reason to celebrate. While the French reputation for making classic, world class wine is intact, they have been caught up with in the minds of many since 1976…and not just by Californians.

What’s interesting is the guts on display. As too often seems the case, its the French who have everything to lose and very little to gain. What happens if the French tasters choose the old California wines over the old French wines? Ands what happens if Time Magazine covers it again. You might find some French wine makers somewhat unhappy with Mr Spurrier for once again placing the French wines too close to the edge of the pedestal.

One Response

  1. Rick - February 24, 2006

    This is going to be great to see the outcome, but the French ace up the sleeve has got to be the 2000 Bordeaux’s.
    The thing is that the wine industry has changed so much (as Mr. Howkins said) that the results are not going to change a whole lot and we’ll be lucky to get a news brief in Time about it.

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