Recently, a very cool event took place. One that has a lot of significance in the wine world. Us wine drinkers have been drinking new world and old world wines and enjoying them. But years ago there was and event that helped shape the wine world as we know it now. Especially for the American perspective and surely the French.
On May 24, 1976, Steve Spurrier, who owned a small wine shop and a respected wine school, L'Academie du Vin, in the heart of Paris, wanted to shine a light on the quality of wines coming out of California to the French wine community and he played it out to the wine world at large covered by Time magazine. The results of this contest he created changed the wine world forever.
Nine respected, French judges including representatives from the AOC regulatory board, Institut Oenologique de France (The Wine Institute of France), and a several of top Paris restaurant owners and sommeliers, all representing the top of the French wine industry, got together to participate in a blind tasting that in essence put California Chardonnay against the cream of the crop of white Burgundy and California Cabernet against the esteemed top Grand Crus from Bordeaux, two of which were the famous first growths of Mouton Rothschild and Haut Brion.
Steve continues to be so very high regarded in the wine world…
Well, the American wines won the competition. It was like “the shot heard around the world”!
It is now 30 years later and the idea to re-taste the group of wines came about.
This time there were judges on both sides of the Atlantic and the wines tasted blind on this anniversary.
Here are the wines:
1972 Clos du Val Cabernet, 1969 Freemark Abbey Cabernet, 1970 Heitz Martha's Vineyard Cabernet, 1971 Mayacamas Cabernet, 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Blend, 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet, 1970 Château Haut-Brion , 1971 Château Léoville-Las-Cases, 1970 Château Montrose and 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild.
…and here are the complete results from the blind tasting.
I have listed the points from the scoring next to the wine. The top wine for each panelist received 10 points, the second ranked 9 points and so forth. The number of points were then added up and summed for the final count. By the way they call this ‘Borda Count system’.
#1 - 1971 Ridge Monte Bello (67 points)
#2 - 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars (63 points)
#3 - 1970 Heitz Martha's Vineyard (62 points)
#4 - 1971 Mayacamas (60 points)
#5 - 1972 Clos du Val (53 points)
#6 - 1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (46 points)
#7 - 1970 Chateau Montrose (39 points)
#8 - 1970 Chateau Haut-Brion (36 points)
#9 - 1969 Freemark Abbey (35 points)
#10 - 1971 Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases (34 points)
#1 - 1971 Ridge Monte Bello (70 points)
#2 - 1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild (59 points)
#3- 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars (56 points)
#4 - (TIE) 1970 Chateau Montrose and 1972 Clos du Val (53 points)
#6 - 1971 Mayacamas (52 points)
#7 - 1970 Heitz Martha's Vineyard (50 points)
#8 - 1970 Chateau Haut-Brion (46 points)
#9 - 1971 Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases (32 points)
#10 - 1969 Freemark Abbey (24 points)
California won again!
After all these years, what we all know is obvious…California produces overwhelmingly fantastic wines. Wines of tremendous quality. This event was great to expose that. The wine world is very lucky! Thanks to Linda Murphy in San Fran for covering this...