French vs Californian Wines - The Judgement of Kingston

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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Passionate wine lovers globally know the story of the 1976 Judgement of Paris, which was a pivotal moment in the history of the wine world and a turning point for American wines. The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also referred to as the Judgment of Paris, was a wine competition organised in Paris on May, 24, 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, in which French judges carried out two blind tasting comparisons: one of top-quality Chardonnays and another of top red wines from USA and France (Bordeaux from France and Cabernet Sauvignon from California). The result was a major upset as the American wines, notably the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, won in both categories.

Dine. Wine. Movietime.

Cellar 8, one of Kingston's newest wine-centric locations, located in upper Manor Park, has a few serious wine lovers on its management team. Sunday last, the Cellar 8 wine guys, who include Matthew Pragnell, Stephen Facey and Vikram Dhiman, organised their own Judgement of Paris complete with wines from two of the winning producers from that fateful day in 1976 in Paris — A Cabernet from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and a Chardonnay from Chateau Montelena. This event combined the showing of the 2009 movie Bottle Shock along with a blind tasting of 12 great wines, plus dinner prepared by Cellar 8's Chef Ramesh Maragh . Bottle Shock is a light entertaining movie that is inspired by events surrounding the Judgement of Paris.


The Blind Tasting

A blind wine tasting is one in which the tasters are not allowed to see the wine label or the shape of the bottle. Cellar 8 adhered to the rules. Each of the 12 wines was concealed in a brown paper bag with only the glasses brought to the table. Guests were given score cards and asked to rate each wine from 1 to 5. At the end of the evening all the scores were tallied and the winner announced.

The wines on offer

The wines were tasted in numerical order before, during and after the movie. The wines were introduced as “number x”. There were three Cabernet Sauvignons from Napa Valley California, three reds from Bordeaux, France; three Chardonnays from Napa Valley, California, and three Burgundy whites. The order of service was: William Fevre Chablis, Chappellet Chardonnay, Chateau Haut-Mouleyre, Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Louis Latour St Veran, Stag's Leap Chardonnay, Pasquer Desvignes Chablis, Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Chateau Chasse-Spleen, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 'Artemis' Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Féret-Lambert and Franciscan Magnificat.

The Winners

The highest scored wine for the evening was the 2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 'Artemis' Cabernet Sauvignon, the same producer that won in 1976. On the palate, the wine offers flavours of ripe blackberry, chocolate-covered cherry and hints of cedar. There's a nice palate weight and texture with ample, yet fine-grained, tannins and a soft finish. Second was the 2013 Franciscan Magnificat and the 2013 Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon a very close third. Coming in forth was the Chateau Chasse-Spleen from Bordeaux, France. The highest placed white wine was the fresh 2013 Pasquier Desvignes Chablis.

After the wines were revealed, there followed heated discussions around the scores and the wines. There was, too, much gratitude to the Cellar 8 team for hosting this event. Needless to say, a fantastic time was had with much anticipation for another.


Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord




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