Good Morning Gentle Readers,
It didn't really make the news, just a paltry four paragraph filler by George Taber in Time Magazine, yet this 1976 non-event created ripples in the wine world that are still felt today.
That is definitely California. It has no nose, one judge said of a 1973 Batard Montrachet from Burgundy.
Raymond Oliver, described by Taber as the doyen of French culinary writers, exclaimed, Ah, back to France! as he happily sipped a Chardonnay from Napa Valley's Freemark Abbey winery.
Today, Taber's notes for the story are in the Smithsonian.
Then came the rematch.
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 honours to a 1971 Ridge Monte Bello cabernet from Napa Valley. Four Californian reds occupied the next placings before the highest-ranked Bordeaux, a 1970 Château MoutonRothschild, came in at sixth.
California also dominated a separate white-wine tasting, but that side of the contest didn't re-enact the 1976 event, since as a rule white wines don't last as long as reds.
The contest is bad news for the French wine industry, even if it was just a casual rematch. New-World wines have outsold French brands in recent years on the global market, and thousands of hectares of French vines have been destroyed to eliminate overproduction
Some tasting notes for a Ridge Montebello Cabernet vertical* running from the contest winning 1971 Ridge Montebello Cab through the 2000 vintage. Worth a read, particularly if you're a David Blowie fan.
Courtesy of Wine Journal
*The term vertical means a certain number of vintages all in a row from one given year to another, sort of like a poker straight.
tip of the glass to Nobody's Business