Tag Archives: Wine

Emotional Connection with Grüner Veltliner #winePW

This month’s Wine Pairing Weekend explores Grüner Veltliner; in the glass and at the table!

Though, this article is about Grüner Veltliner wine, it is also about how wine makes you feel and what, when, where or who it reminds you too. It is said that wine aromas can provoke an emotion or trigger a memory. Why is that? There are studies about the relationship between aromas and memories, and others about the sensations and perceptions you experience when smelling wine aromas. Though I will not delve into the science behind it, I will like to cite a quote from the “Making sense of wine: Cognitive Psychology’s contribution to understanding wine tasting and wine tasters,” by Wendy V. Parr, an Oenology and Wine Sensory Science Researcher from the Department of Wine, Food & Molecular Biosciences, Lincoln University in New Zealand:

“Wine is as cerebral as it is sensual. Experiencing wine is not just a physical experience but also a cognitive and emotional experience. The sensory input associated with wine tasting is subjected to cognitive processing from the moment of perception.”

I found this quote to be really exceptional, and in my personal experience, it is absolutely true.

What that has to do with Grüner Veltliner? Grüner is the first wine that helped me to recognize that emotional connection!

Back when we lived in Atlanta, we gathered frequently with good friends and wine enthusiasts, and with time the group evolved and became a Wine Club. Every month or so, we all gathered at a friend’s house to enjoy good food and wine pairings. Everybody judged the pairing, bestowed a prize and talked about the wine and food pairings they liked the most. It was a lot of fun! There is no better way to enjoy wine than with good food and great friends!

In one of those occasions a dear friend of ours, Maureen, brought a Caramelized Onion and Pear Tart to pair with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. For me, it was the first time tasting a wine made from the Austrian grape and having a sweet/savory pear tart. I was impressed by this pairing! Few years after that event, sadly, our beautiful and vibrant friend, died tragically. Among the many memories of her, we have that night when we had so much fun about discovering this pairing and talking about making the tart. Now every single time I have a Grüner Veltliner, it evokes that emotional connection with her and brings me back to that moment in time.

Maureen and Kari
On the left, our friend Maureen with Kari (Atlanta)

While attending the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, Martin Redwood (Enofylz Wine Blog) and Michelle Williams (Rockin Red Blog) talked to me about the upcoming Grüner Veltliner Wine Pairing Weekend. I immediately thought about that pairing! I thought “Why not? What a better way to remember our friend Maureen?

Since I couldn’t find her original recipe, I searched for a similar recipe. All recipes include a soft cheese. So, with the help of Wine Folly’s “Grüner Veltliner Wine – Taste and Food Pairing Guide” and the book “What to Drink with What you Eat” I think I narrowed it down to two type of cheeses that will go perfectly with the Grüner Veltliner: camembert and brie. I selected three wines to pair with the Caramelized Onion and Pear Tart, two organic wines from Austria and a Sustainable wine from Edna Valley in California.

About the Grüner Veltliner grape

Grüner Veltliner is the most important autochthonous grape variety in Austria. According to Austrian Wine Marketing Board, this white variety alone accounts for almost one-third of Austria’s vineyards with 13,518 hectares. Today, the variety is widely planted especially in Niederösterreich and northern Burgenland. As an origin-typical DAC (“Districtus Austriae Controllatus”) wine, this variety holds special rank in several wine-growing regions.

Grüner most remarkable characteristic is its vibrant acidity and peppery taste in our mouth. That acidity makes Grüners great wine food companions. Many times Grüner’s compatibility with food is compared to that of dry Rieslings. So if you are a fan of dry Rieslings, and you have never tasted Grüners, there is a great chance you will like Grüner Veltliner wines. They also have a very attractive price point, usually between $10 and $20. Alcohol percentage ranges between 11% and 13%.

About the wines

Zocker Grüner Veltliner

Wine Number 1

Wine: 2014 Zocker
Grape: 100% Grüner Veltliner
Origen: Edna Valley, California
Winery:  Paragon Vineyard
Alcohol: 13.5%
Retail Value: $17.99
Additional Information: Estate Grown, SIP Certified (Sustainable in Practice)
Tasting Notes: On the nose, it has aromas of pear, citrus, and hints of petrol and minerality. On the palate, the wine is crisp, with medium body, grapefruit undertones, and tart apple finish.

BioKult Grüner Veltliner

Wine Number 2

Wine: 2015 BioKult
Grape: 100% Grüner Veltliner
Origen: Niederösterreich – Qualitätswein, Austria
Alcohol: 11.5%
Retail Value: $14.99
Additional Information: Made with organic grapes, NON-GMOand biodynamic farming
Tasting Notes: On the nose, it has notes of green apples, honey, citrus, floral, and fruit forward. On the palate, the wine has a light body, and it is crisp and tart, with notes of white pepper, grass and ends with a textured finish. The wine opens with time, becoming very approachable.

Pratsch Grüner Veltliner

Wine Number 3

Wine: 2014 Pratsch
Grape: 100% Grüner Veltliner
Origen: Niederösterreich, Austria
Alcohol: 12%
Retail Value: $14.99
Additional Information: Made with organic grapes
Tasting Notes: On the nose, it has grassy, lemongrass, floral and citrus notes. On the palate, it has green apples, honey, grapefruit, tart with a mouthwatering and lingering finish. This wine has a nice acidity to compliment rich dishes.

About the pairing

The recipe I chose to follow, and I believe closely resembles our friend’s recipe, is from “Dalia cooks.” The recipe is “Caramelized Onion And Pear Tart,” and it has onions, Bosc pears, Camembert cheese, and thyme. I highly recommend this recipe to pair with any Grüner Veltliner wines. The richness and saltiness of the Camembert cheese contrast with the sweetness of the caramelized onions and pears. The lovely acidity of Grüner Veltliners is an incredible pairing for the tart. However, out of the three wines tasted for this pairing event, the 2014 Pratsch Grüner Veltliner paired the best with the tart. I have to admit that it also is the one that mostly remind me of my first experience with Grüner, and brings me closer to my memory of our friend Maureen! This wine is outstanding, alone to sip on a hot summer afternoon or with along food. This is a great value wine for $14.99. I will definitely buy this wine again.

This tasting has reaffirmed my memory of our friend. Cheers Maureen!!

Check out what my fellow #WinePW bloggers have discovered during their exploration of Grüner Veltliner in the glass and at the table:

  • Michelle of Rockin Red Blog  tells us Why You Should be Drinking Grüner Veltliner.
  • Jill of L’Occassion recommends we Go Ahead and Say It: Grüner Veltliner
  • Camilla, Culinary Adventures with Camilla is dishing- Herbs, Bitter Greens, and Halibut Cheeks with Grüner Veltliner
  • Sarah of Curious Cuisinere tempts us with Backhendl (Austrian Fried Chicken) and Grüner Veltliner
  • Nancy of Pull that Cork will be offering Grüner Veltliner: A Pair of Pear(ings) for #winePW
  • Lori of Dracaena Wines will be sending A Message in a Bottle From Austria
  • David of Cooking Chat presents a healthy Kale and Tempeh Curry with Grüner
  • Jeff of FoodWineClick asks the question Is Grüner Veltliner Your Next Pizza Wine?
  • Lauren of The Swirling Dervish proclaims Gruner Veltliner: A Lot Easier to Drink than It is to Say
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences recommends we Wine and Dine: Gruner Veltliner and Salmon Teriyaki with Garlic Baby Potatoes.
  • Jade of Tasting Pour serves up Shrimp and Corn Soup with Gruner Veltlner #winepw
  • Wendy of A Day In The Life On The Farm presents Germany collides with Asia for #WinePW
  • Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will be offering A Taste of Grüner Veltliner; Old World and New World #winePW

Michael David Winery Lodi

Michael David Winery Lodi
Picture by Edgar Solis Photo

Michael David Winery is synonym with Lodi excellence in winemaking. My experience with Michael David wines goes back to 2011 when I met Michael and Kristy Phillips for lunch at Soho Restaurant in Vinings, GA. I was just starting writing about wine at that time, the opportunity to meet a winery owner and taste his wines paired with outstanding food was incredibly exciting and new to me. After tasting wine with Mike and Kristy, I thought, “Wow, this is cool. I want to do this again”. Michael and Kristy shared their family history and their passion for wine with me like we were old friends. That is what wine does; it makes you close by sharing and experiencing intoxicating aromas and flavors.

I remember asking Michael,  how did your family business start? “My great great grandparents established a vegetable farm on their 160 acres farm following the Civil War in the 1860′s near the town of Lodi. The Phillip’s farms evolved to include many different fruits, including fifteen different wine grape varieties, shipped throughout the country during Prohibition with instructions on how not to have the grapes turn into wine. Thereby, Prohibition was good for Lodi growers, with families everywhere keeping up the tradition of wine with meals by ordering these grapes and juice to be bottled at home.”

We tried well-balanced wines, like the 2009 Incognito white blend: (58% Viognier, 19% Chardonnay, 9% Malvasia Bianca, 7% Roussanne, 4% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% Symphony). This wine has intense white flower aromas, honeysuckle, ripe peaches and watermelon with beautiful notes of citrus lemon. Crisp and fresh with flavors of apricot, lemon, and hints of white pepper.

We enjoyed the 2008 Lust Zinfandel, 6th Sense Syrah and notably the 2008 Petite Petit (85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot). This wine was dark purple-red in color and showed intense aromas of ripe plum, dark berries and dark currants with hints of violet, sweet vanilla, and caramel. On the palate, this elegant wine felt medium to full-bodied with a soft texture and pleasant tannins.

Brothers Michael and David Phillips own the winery located in Lodi, California. Mike is a fifth generation winemaker/producer and his son Kevin Phillips is the 6th generation of the Phillips Family to farm in the Lodi Appellation and has worked for the family since 2002.

“Kevin is our only son and is currently the VP of Operations for Phillips Farms and Michael-David Winery. His duties consist of overseeing all of the farming operations for Phillips Farms that includes over 750 acres of vineyards. He runs the grape grower relations side of the business which has over 65 farmers from 7 appellations and more than 20 different varieties. He also does all of the logistics and scheduling for each harvest and works hand in hand with the talented winemaking team at Michael-David Winery.” Mike shared.

Kevin also helped in the process of making all the family properties to comply with the rigorous Lodi Rules for Sustainability Program and lead Michael-David Winery as the first winery in California to give bonuses to all of their growers who achieve certification in the Lodi Sustainability Program.” Mike added.

A month after meeting Mike and Kristy, Julie and I had the great opportunity to visit Lodi for the first time. We stayed at Bare Ranch for a couple of days and were able to wander into beautiful wine country and try new exciting wines, including Jessie’s Grove Winery, Van Ruiten Family Vineyards, and The Lucas Winery.

Later on, while visiting one of the Rhone Rangers events in the San Francisco Bay area, we discovered beautiful Lodi Rhone varietal wines from Acquiesce Winery and Vineyards, immediately felt in love with the wines of Winemaker Sue Tipton. A couple of months later we came upon Bokisch Vineyards while visiting a TAPAS event at The Golden Gate Club in San Francisco. Markus and Liz Bokisch specialized in growing Spanish grape varieties in Lodi. Thanks to Sue Tipton, in 2012 we attended the Artisan Masters event in Lodi for a full weekend. Since then, we appreciated the great variety of quality wines coming from the Lodi AVA.

The Lodi AVA was approved in 1986, expanded in 2002 and revised in 2006 with the approval of seven new sub-areas within the boundaries of the existing Lodi AVA, based upon differences in soils and geographies, “With additional evidence for historical usage of the names of the proposed new AVA’s.” The Lodi wine region is growing in recognition for its quality wines and diversity of grape varieties grown. Over one hundred vitis vinifera grapes call Lodi home, including vines from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal.

No surprise the 9th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference is happening in Lodi from August 11 to 13, 2016. A couple of hundred wine lovers will be descending into Lodi to learn, taste and share experiences with their readers about the many wine wonders that call Lodi home. It will be a warm and personal gathering of wine writers, winemakers and friends from the wine industry on a highly rated hospitable environment.

 

 

9th Santa Lucia Highlands Gala tasting

 SLH2Photo by Edgar Solís

On May 16 Santa Lucia Highlands Artisans will be celebrating their 9th Gala tasting event at Mer Soleil Winery. Come and taste wines from forty premium wineries, they will be sharing heavenly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. For many of the boutique wineries participating, this is the only public tasting of the year. The event will take place in the scenic Mer Soleil Winery located on the eastern end of this coastal appellation of Monterey County.

In 1991, the Federal government designated the Santa Lucia Highlands (SHL) as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA). The grape growing history of this region goes back to the 1790s, with the arrival of the first Spanish missionaries. First commercial plantings started in 1973, with a second round of vineyard plantings in the 1980s and 1990s. Today, about fifty vineyard estates encompassed 6,100 acres of vines.

The vineyards of the SLH are planted on the terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, verging on the Salinas River Valley. The fog and breeze off nearby Monterey Bay channel southeast, between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan ranges, creating a unique cool climate. The high altitude vineyard sites take full advantage of the morning sunshine before the chilled, afternoon maritime winds slow down the sugar production on the grapes, allowing a prolong, even ripening. The growing season is long, starting with early bud break and lack of fall rains. The grapes developed fully, lush in phenolic compounds, ripeness and flavors.

SLH member wineries expected to pour at this year’s Gala include: August West, Belle Glos, Bernardus, Black Kite, Boekenoogen, Cattleya, Estancia, Hahn Family Wines, Hawks View, Hope & Grace, J. Lohr Highlands Bench, Joyce, Kori, Kosta Browne, La Rochelle, Loring, Mansfield – Dunne, Manzoni, McFarland, McIntyre, Mer Soleil, Miner, Miura, Mooney, Morgan, Novy, Paraiso, Pelerin, Pessagno, Pisoni/ Lucia, Poppy, Prim, Puma Road, Roar, Sarah’s Vineyard, Saxon Brown, Scheid, Siduri, Tantara, Testarossa, Tondre, Tudor, and Wrath.

Alongside quality wines, enjoy local gastronomy with sensual bites from various of the region’s best chefs. Including Dyon Foster from Hahn, Todd Fisher from Tarpy’s, Tim Wood from Carmel Valley Ranch, Cal Stamenov from Bernardus Lodge, James Waller from the Monterey Plaza Hotel, and many more. Bid on the big format wine bottle silent auction, benefiting Rancho Cielo Youth Campus. Harmonizing the event, live music from the Mario Flores Sontet.

A “VIP SLH Experience” ticket is available. The ticket includes two pre-Gala seminars: “Artisan Cheese Summit” a discussion and tasting with local cheese craftsmen, and “Beyond Pinot” seminar with SLH winemakers presenting interesting varietals other than Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. VIPs also get early admission to the main Gala tasting and auction. Get your tickets at Santa Lucia Highlands Gala.

 

Best value quality wines under twenty dollars

ValueWines

Photo by Edgar Solís

It is my pleasure to share 10 best value  quality wines under twenty dollars. Delicious and affordable wines from a variety of countries. The wine world is full of well crafted options that you can drink every day without breaking your budget.  All this wines should be relatively easy to find in retailers in the USA.

2012 Vouvray (Chenin Blanc) Barton & Guestier. 100% Chenin Blanc from Loire Valley, France. Alcohol level: 11.5% Color: golden raisin, FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: pear, green apple, oak, floral, savory, sage and kiwi, flavors: honey, tart granny apples, pear, slightly mineral. Body: medium. Sugar level: off-dry. Acid: medium. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 5. Price: $12.

2012 Hess Select Suavignon Blanc. 100% Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast AVA, CA-USA. Alcohol level: 13.5%. Color: pale yellow. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: grapefruit, meyer lemon and honeysuckle, flavors: pear, apples, tart, slightly mineral, short finish and green herbal aftertaste. Body: medium. Sugar level: dry. Acid: medium to high. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 3.5. Price: $11.

 2012 Weingut Meinhard Forstreiter Grüner Veltliner. From Kremstal, Austria. Alcohol level: 12%. Color: straw. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: apple, pears, oak, citrus, light green peppers, sage, flavors: apple, lime, grapefruit and green bell pepper. Body: medium. Sugar level: dry. Acid: high. Tannin: Low to medium. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 4. Price: $10.

2013 Torrontés, Alamos from Catena wines, Argentina. Alcohol level: 13%. Color: pale yellow/green. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: apple, honeysuckle, slight green peppers, citric notes and herbal, flavors: tangerine, apricot, grapefruit, Asian pear and tart apple. Crisp, refreshing and mouthwatering. Sugar level: dry. Acid: high. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 4. Price: $12.

2010 Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir. From Napa Valley Carneros AVA, CA-USA. Alcohol level: 13.5%. Color: dark ruby with clear rim. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: cherry, plum, smoky, violets, licorice, brown spices and oak, flavor: cherry, plum, black pepper, and spicy finish. Acid: medium to high. Tannin: medium. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 4. Price: $20.

2012 Chinon Charles Joquet. 100% Cabernet Franc from Loire Valley-Touraine, France. Alcohol level: 12.5%. Color: purple with slight purple rim. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: cherry, blackberry, tobacco, smoke, licorice and earthy notes, flavors: cherry, red berries, raspberry, mineral, and hints of pepper. Body: medium. Sugar level: dry. Acid: medium. Tannin: Low. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 4.5. Price: $18.

2012 Gigondas, Caves Saint-Pierre. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre from Southern Rhône Valley, France. Alcohol level: 13% Color: purple. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: cherry, cola, raspberry, oak and violets, flavors: slightly peppery, alcoholic, berries. Body: medium. Sugar level: off-dry. Acid: medium. Tannin: medium. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 3.5. Price: $17.

2009 Viña Eguía Reserva. 100% Tempranillo grape wine from Rioja DOCa, Spain. Alcohol level: 13.5%, Color: Dark ruby, FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: licorice, dark cherry, red fruit, mint and oak, flavors: blackbery, cherries, baking spices. Body: Medium-full. Sugar level: Dry. Acid: High. Tannin: High. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 4. Price: $16.

2010 Cecchi Chianti Classico DOCG. Sangiovese (90%), other varieties (10%) from Chianti, Italy. Alcohol level: 13.5% Color: dark garnet, FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: blackberries, raspberries, violets, cigar, smoke, chocolate and vanilla, flavors: blackberry, licorice, sour cherries and slightly tart finish. Body: medium-full. Sugar level: dry. Acid: medium-high. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 4.5. Price: $14.

2010 Guenoc Petite Sirah. From Lake County AVA, CA-USA. Alcohol level: 13.5%. Color: ruby/magenta with clear rim. FEW (Fruit, Earth, Wood), aromas: figs, raspberry, plums, strawberry jam, pomegranate, grape, mushrooms and slightly smoky, flavors: alcohol, cherry, plum and mineral notes. Sugar level: dry. Acid: high. Tannin: medium. Rating, 1-5 (low-high): 3.5. Price: $7.

Photos by Edgar Solis Photo

Get Ready for Zinfadel Experience 2015

ZAP15

Get ready to celebrate the Zinfandel Experience, 24 years of excellence in wine. Zinfandel generates tremendous enthusiasm that captures the American pioneer spirit in a bottle. Until recently the origin of Zinfandel was unknown. Recent DNA analysis has confirmed that the primitive grape from Italy and Crljenak Kastelanski, an old grape variety from Croatia, are genetically identical to Zinfandel grapes. However, the differences in the vigor of the plant, the size of the grape bunches, variety of soils and methods of cultivation; give Zinfandel its particular profile.

The grape growers, winemakers, and Zinfandel lovers have joined for the preservation and recognition of Zinfandel as a Heritage wine in the United States. Under this premise, the organization ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) founded in 1991. ZAP is a nonprofit organization 501 (c) (3) with the purpose of connecting all the enthusiasts of Zinfandel. ZAP educates the public about the importance of this grape in the history and culture of the United States. ZAP has succeeded in raising the global recognition of Zinfandel as high-quality wine.

“Zinfandel Experience” is the greatest event of wine tasting from a single grape variety in the world, unique in its class. After 22 continuous editions, last year the event changed its format to promote more education and create awareness about the wide variety wine styles produced from this grape. Its new format has been a resounding success, by popular demand it will be structured the same way with improvements made each year. The 2015 edition will take place January 29-31, 2015 between the facilities of Presidio and the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.

The event includes:

  • Epicuria, Zinfandel and Food Pairing
    January 29, 2015 (Thursday) 6-8 p.m.
    Golden Gate Club, Presido San Francisco

The Club Golden Gate serves as the backdrop for exploring the flavors of versatile Zinfandel wine in a casual atmosphere. Enjoy sophisticated culinary creations prepared by local chefs in perfect accompaniments with more than 30 Zinfandels. Share with winemakers, enologists, lovers of Zinfandel and culinary experts. VIP guests have the opportunity of early entry and exclusive access to the VIP room.

  • “Flights! Forums of Flavor”
    January 30, 2015 (Friday) 10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
    Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

Enjoy professional tasting seminars focused on high quality and limited production Zinfandels. Great opportunity to learn from experts in Zinfandel and experience the great variety and character of the wines. ZAP in conjunction with ” The Historic Vineyard Society” will be offering us the opportunity to taste wines produced from 80 years old vines.

  • Winemakers Dinner and Benefit with Taste
    January 30, 2015 (Friday)
    5:30-7:30 p.m. Winemakers Reception and Silent auction
    7:30-10:00 p.m. Dinner and Live Wine Auction
    Four Seasons Hotel, San Francisco

Go elegant, the popular TV series “Mad Men” is the inspiration for the reception, dinner, and auction. At the reception, the winemakers and owners of wineries will be offering tastings of their well-crafted wines while you can speak directly to them. Enjoy an intimate dinner organized by celebrities from the world of wine and a custom menu that has the best cuisine from farm to table. One of the winemakers will host your table and offer several wines to pair with each dish. Enjoy the silent and live auctions, benefiting the various ZAP educational programs, and special projects. The auction will have lots of rare bottles, intimate experiences in wineries and much more.

  • The Tasting
    January 31, 2015 (Saturday)
    11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (VIP’s and “All day Ticket Holders”)
    ZAP Members 1:00-5:00 p.m.
    General Public 2:00-5:00 p.m.
    Various Locations at Presidio San Francisco: “Golden Gate Club & Film Centre”

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the VIP’s and visitors with all day tickets will taste Zinfandel direct from the barrel. A hundred winemakers and winery directors will share wines from the latest harvest, not bottled yet. Also, enjoy several reserve Zinfandels.

At 1 p.m., the doors will open to ZAP members, and at 2 p.m. for the general public. Throughout the tasting, winemakers and winery owners will share their deep passion for their craft. You can explore the flavors of Zinfandel blends, Zinfandels single vineyard Zinfandels and old vine Zinfandels. Go deeper into the distinctive aromas and flavors of the regions producing Zinfandel. You will expand your knowledge on Zinfandel attending to one of the winemaker’s seminars and visit the general store to bring home some of your favorite wines. Gourmet food trucks offer the opportunity to satisfy your appetite and add to the experience.

To purchase tickets and detailed information about the event, please visit the web page Zinfandel Experience.

Celebrating thirty-eight years of the Judgment of Paris

 

ChatMont copy
Chateau Montelena, Calistoga, California
Photo by: Edgar Solis

Thirty-eight years ago California wines stunned French judges at the now famous Judgment of Paris. This event marked the beginnings of Napa Valley as a worldly acclaimed wine region.

In 1976 Steven Spurrier, British wine merchant in Paris, curious about recent news about how California was making wines that could rival the best of French wines, decided to host a blind tasting of California and French wines to celebrate the American Bicentennial. He invited eleven tasters with the best professional credentials in the French wine business. Then, he traveled to California to taste the best wines he could find for the tasting and brought them with him to Paris.

The May 24th, 1976 blind wine tasting changed the World’s view of California wines forever, especially of Napa Valley. To the French surprise the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars scored the highest for the red wines, and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay scored the highest in the white wine category. Not far behind 1974 Chalone (from Monterey County) and 1973 Spring Mountain (Napa County) wines won third and fourth places.

Though, the French press paid little to no interest to the results of the Judgment of Paris, Times Magazine journalist present at the event, George M. Taber, immediately broke the news to the American public in an article published on June 7th, 1976. For once, the myth of French wine invincibility was shattered. Though the French wine industry did not talk much about the results, they took note and was an incentive for them to examine its winemaking traditions. The event launched the California wines to the forefront of the world’s wine industry.

Some other blind tastings were organized after the 1976 event and it is worth mentioning that in all the events California wines scored the highest. On May 24, 2006, 30th Anniversary tasting event, organized in association with Steven Spurrier, took place with simultaneous tastings at COPIA, in downtown Napa, and at Berry Bros. & Rudd (Britain’s oldest wine merchant) in London. Once more California red wines were preferred over French wines. This instance California wines demonstrated its capacity for aging well compared to French wines. As The Times reported on May 25, 2006 “Despite the French tasters, many of whom had taken part in the original tasting, ‘expecting the downfall’ of the American vineyards, they had to admit that the harmony of the Californian cabernets had beaten them again. Judges on both continents gave top honors to a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet. Four Californian reds occupied the next placings before the higher-ranked Bordeaux, a 1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, came in at sixth.” (Ref. Wikipedia)

Today Napa Valley is one of the best world-renowned wine-growing regions, exceeding its own expectations, with visitors from all over the globe and yes, even French visitors.

Today, the wines of Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, like many others in Napa Valley, still command the respect and appreciation of wine aficionados the world over, demonstrating beyond a doubt that the Paris victory was no accident indeed. This event opened the doors not only to Napa Valley, but the entire California and American wine industry.