Now that Bottle Shock, the movie about the famous Judgment of Paris tasting, is coming out on DVD, it seemed like a good time to post about our restaging of this famous wine event.
For anyone that is not familiar with the history, this is the competition in 1976 where ten top French wines were put up in a blind tasting against ten of California’s best. The judges, all French, included luminaries in the wine industry. To everyone’s shock, the California wines came out on top, Chateau Montelena won for the whites, and Stag’s Leap for the red.
Bottle Shock, the movie based on this historical wine event, was chosen for the Sundance Film Festival last year, and will be out on DVD in February. As a fundraiser for the Museum of Photographic Arts, we organized a restaging of the Judgment with updated vintages of the wines from the original tasting. There were 50 attendees and we began the evening by … screening a clip and having the director talk about the movie. People loved that we served truffled popcorn and champagne in the museum’s theatre! Then, we moved into the art gallery for the actual tasting.
Here’s what we drank. Whites: Grgich Carneros Chardonnay, Montelena Chardonnay, Blain Gagnard Batard Montrachet, Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches. Reds: Mouton Rothschild, Leoville Las Cases, Lynch Bages, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard, Stag’s Leap Cask 23, Ridge Monte Bello
To see Spurrier’s original lineup check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judgment_of_Paris_(wine)
Just like the original, we staged this single-blind. While we tasted, and voted for our favorites, Maria Hunt, our mistress of ceremonies, did a great job giving us background information about the wines and the Paris tasting. Jeffrey Strauss at Pamplemousse provided dishes that paired wonderfully with the wines. When we tallied up the votes, the results were surprising. For the whites, the Grgich won by a landslide with the Montelena coming in last.
Wine Geek Factoid: Mike Grgich made the ‘73 Montelena that won the Paris tasting. Mike is a charming guy, and at 85-years old he is still running the show at Grgich Hills Winery, as well as being a shameless flirt. There has been a lot of grumbling in the wine geek community that the movie doesn’t even mention Mike.
For the reds, just like in the original tasting, the Stag’s Leap beat out the great Bordeaux.
Anyway, a fun time was had by all, and I suggest you try this at home. First read the Judgment of Paris by George Taber so you are armed with the facts. Then buy updated vintages of the wines, rent the DVD, invite friends, show the film, drink, vote and tally. If you are interested in doing this as a fundraiser, contact me and I can help you source some bottles. In talking to others who have done this, I was amazed at how often Stag’s Leap wins in these restagings. Cheers!