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The Judgement of Paris, Oh the Drama!

Soap_opera_weeklyAnd, you thought your high schooler or "Days of our Lives" was a soap opera.

Mark, a columnist on the Wine Sediments blog has a terrific "calling on the rug" post regarding the 30 year anniversary and recreation of the 1976 Paris Wine Tasting in Monday’s column

The crux of the issue can be found in this excerpt from the column:

Inthe re-creation, "it has now been decided that ... the wines will bepresented semi-blind –- the panels will know which region but not which winethey are tasting."

WHAT??Let me translate that for you ...

...into chickenspeak: BAWK bawk bawk BAWK bawk bawk BAWK.

Withoutthe suspense of a truly blind tasting in which the experts choose theirfavorites without geopolitical influence—and run the risk of confusingCalifornia wines with French wines and vice versa, as clearly happened in the1976 tasting—there is no point in even bothering to hold this event. It is,quite simply, a sham.

And why is this beingdone? Due to some of the owners of the prestigious Bordeaux houses involved inthe original tasting "not wishing to have their wines tasted blind againstCalifornian wines," according to

Mark based his column on a Decanter column from April 28th.

There were some other machination’s involved with people and personalities, as well.

For example, The Baroness Philippine de Rothschild refused toparticipate in a
blind tasting of her Mouton Rothschild wines against theCalifornians, but her niece or cousin or somebody elected to step in to upholdthe family name.

Your first thought is that the French are a bunch of namby-pamby pantywaists afraid to stack their vino up against the Americans for fear of losing a second time, right?  It’s the gas-guzzling SUV aesthete against the refined European, fast-casual restaurants versus dining, New World versus Old World, progress versus preservation of tradition argument.

But, as any college football fan knows, "Not so fast, my friend."

The Wall Street Journal reports on Tuesday that the Americans, clearly missing their opportunity to take the high road, are wallowing in their own pettiness and ego. 

This excerpt from the story summarizes it, but you can find the whole article here.

Thefeud is an old one. Not long after Chateau Montelena won the Paris tasting, thealready strained relationship between the winery’s owner, James L. Barrett, andits winemaker, Mr. Grgich, worsened. Mr. Grgich quit in mid-1977 and foundedhis own winery.

IN THE YEARS SINCE, both Chateau Montelena andGrgich Hills have separately celebrated their involvement in the Paris tasting.Both men helped George M. Taber, the only journalist present at the 1976 tasting,with research for his 2005 book, "Judgment of Paris: California vs. Franceand the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine."

Reading galleys of the book last spring, Mr. Grgichwas enraged to see Mr. Barrett’s claims that the award-winning wine had anunusual copper color a few weeks after bottling that eventually disappeared,suggesting it was imperfect. Mr. Grgich says he angrily phoned ChateauMontelena and threatened to sue Mr. Taber for libel. Mr. Grgich maintained the1973 Chateau Montelena chardonnay was "perfect from the beginning."

Mr. Barrett gave the anniversary organizers anultimatum: "If you want Mike and his wines, I’m not coming," Mr.Barrett says he told the organizers. "My dispute is that he’s on an egotrip," he says.

Mr. Grgich says the opposite is true and that it ishis old boss who is unfairly "trying to claim credit, even though hedidn’t make the wine." He was excluded from the 10th and 20th anniversarycelebrations, he says, and feels "they are still trying to push me out ofit."

I’m not sure which is worse:  a chicken or a bunch of fools, but there’s plenty of the former and the latter to go around in this situation.  They ought to just let Parker come in and do the tasting, now that would solve the problem.

This reminds of the family that is fighting in the front room while a thief takes a TV through the backdoor.  The Australians are surely watching this nonsense.  Anybody for a nice Penfolds Grange?


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