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Excellent discussion of the tasting that brought California wine to the attention of the world
on May 23, 2014
I was in the US Navy in Chicago 1975-77. I was also beginning a hobby of collecting wine. After a trip to Napa Valley I began to pay attention to California wines. In mid-1976 I read an article in the NY Times about a tasting that had occurred in Paris earlier that summer in which 2 California wines, Stag's Leap 1973 CS and Chateau Montelena 1975 Chardonnay had bested a group of respectable French Bordeaux and Bergundy wines. What was particularly striking was the all-French tasting panel. I purchased a case of the 1973 Stag's Leap and enjoyed it over the next several years. I still have two bottles that have been stored under reasonable conditions and will open them one of these days. The account in the Judgement of Paris by George Tabor is well-written, factual (as I recall the events) and captures some of the ferment (no pun intended) of 1970s California wine making. It was a different time when it was possible to meet and get to know (for the purchase of a half-dozen bottles of wine) some of the greats. Joseph Swan, Joe Heitz, Warren Winarski, and even Robert Mondavi were accessible with some effort. What a trip it has been. Mr. Taber puts these early days (actually not the early days, but the post prohibition renaissance) in perspective very nicely and captures some of the uncertainty and headiness of those days. I had not read this book before, but enjoyed it very much.