Red wine glasses waiting for wine tasting

During May, Hard To Find Wines presented a private tasting for Chelsea Wine Society. At first glance, that may not seem like too difficult a task for a wine importer and retailer. However, instead of a standard tasting, Hard To Find Wines was challenged to create a re-enactment of the Judgment of Paris!

The Judgment of Paris - France v California

The Judgment of Paris, also known as the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, pitted Californian wines against French wines in a blind tasting. On the Californian side were Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon. On the French side were white Burgundys and Bordeaux. The wine tasting was organised by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant who himself only sold French wines. It is said Spurrier believed the French wines would easily overcome the Californian competition.

The jury was made up of nine French judges, Spurrier and one American judge, Patricia Gallagher. Only the scores by French judges were taken into account. Scores by Spurrier and Gallagher were disregarded in the overall results.

The results created a great stir as a Californian wine topped the tables in each category. Stag's Leap Wine Cellar's 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon graced the top of the red tables and Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay took the lead for the white wines. The outcry over the event led to Spurrier being banned for a year from the French wine tasting tour and resulted in many subsequent replications of the event. The most notable recreation was the 30th Anniversary of the Judgement of Paris held in 2006, again organised by Spurrier. This event took place with simultaneous tastings in Napa, California and in London, England, with each panel consisting of 9 judges. Once again, the judges gave top honours to a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971, which had itself featured in the original tasting in 1976.

The Judgment of Paris 2017

So, back to the present day and the event re-enacted by Hard To Find Wines.

Hard To Find Wines selection for re-enactment of Judgment of Paris

Hard To Find Wines conducted the modified re-enactment with six red wines blind tasted: three French Bourdeaux and three Californian Cabernet Sauvignon. All the wines tasted had featured in the original event, but with vintages much closer to today. Once again, a Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, the Freemark Abbey 2010 took first place. It was followed very closely by the Chateau Haut-Brion 2011.

Full results are as follows:

Results of Hard To Find Wines' Judgment of Paris re-enactment

The Society is planning to re-enact the white wine portion of the tasting later in the year, in conjunction with Hard To Find Wines.

Mark Davies, Director of Hard To Find Wines, said of the event, "It is very interesting that in our tasting the US wines again performed very well against the more established Bordeaux. We are very much looking forward to doing the other half of the tasting."

Join our mailing list to hear about specialist tastings throughout the year and special offers on wines by emailing sales@htfwines.co.uk. Or how about joining one of our wine tastings at our tasting room? For more information, see our page on wine tasting.