Revisit napa valley’s Most Historic Event

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It was the seminal event that put Napa Valley on the viticultural map: The Paris Tasting of 1976 — better known as the Judgment of Paris — was held on May 24, when two blind tastings were held between French and Californian wines. (Bonus points to any classics geeks who know that the original name “Judgment of Paris” was a sly wink to a tale from Greek mythology in which the name “Paris” referred not to the French city but to the Trojan hero.)

Among the whites, a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay took first place, beating out a 1973 Meursault Charmes Roulot Chardonnay. In the red category, the winning 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon bested a 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild Bordeaux.

Organized by British wine expert Steven Spurrier (who sold and promoted only French wines), the event revolutionized the wine industry and toppled the notion that France was the ne plus ultra in winemaking. Of the eleven judges, only Spurrier and one American (Patricia Gallagher of l’Academie du Vin) were not French. The shock and outrage were immediate: Judge Odette Kahn, editor of La Revue du vin de France, even demanded her ballot back.

That single tasting launched the Napa Valley wine industry on its way to becoming a world capital for fine wines. Since then, the legendary blind tasting has been repeated every ten years, with equally stellar wines, experts, and judges. Now Cultured Vine has recreated the experience for its most discerning guests with the Judgment of Napa. In your own eight-wine blind tasting, you’ll be the judge. You’ll taste modern vintages of two each of the highest-scoring Burgundy white wines and Bordeaux reds, including a fabled First Growth wine.

The tasting will last between 90 minutes and 2 hours. It will be moderated by Master of Wine Peter Marks, who assisted Stephen Spurrier in organizing the 2006 Napa Valley reenactment and is one of only 40 Masters of Wine residing in the United States. He received his MW in 1995, when he also became the first American to receive the Madame Bollinger Foundation Award, which is bestowed annually to the MW candidate with the highest blind tasting score. Marks is also a member of the Society of Wine Educators, and teaches wine classes independently. He’s the Education Coordinator for the Institute of Masters of Wine tasting exam in the U.S., is on the Wine Education Committee of the Napa Valley Vintners, judges at many international wine competitions, and assists with charitable fundraisers throughout the year.

Inspired by Spurrier’s original vision, a panel of Masters of Wine have selected two Napa Valley Chardonnays and two Cabernet Sauvignons to challenge the greatest wines of France. As a grouping, this is perhaps the best line-up of wines presented in any single tasting available in the Valley today.

For true wine connoisseurs, the Judgment of Napa presents a unique opportunity to revisit the most significant blind tasting in wine history, with unrivaled expertise to guide you through the entire event. Naturally, Cultured Vine can build an entire Napa Valley experience around your tasting, with customized accommodations, dining, and winery visits.

written by: Kirsten Mickelwait