Liberally Conservative

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free....... ~Ronald Reagan~

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Judgment of Paris - Wine War's

In the past few years it has been fashionable to "knock" the French and their inept government. The French practice of socialism, anti-American fervor and back stabbing at the U.N. Security Council have enabled us to confidently write our negative opinions on French attitudes towards the U.S. xxx However, 30 years ago a war was won, not of words, but of the palate. To be exact, the French wine palate. In 1976, a Paris-based British wine merchant, Steven Spurrier, organized a blind tasting of California and French wines in honor of the bicentennial of the American Revolution.
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With labels hidden from view, French wine experts in attendance at Spurrier's event pronounced the California wines generally superior to those from France. In both red and white blind tastings, an American wine won handily: a 1973 Stag's Leap cabernet and a 1973 Chateau Montelena chardonnay. Third and fourth place also went to California Chardonnays.
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French arrogance took its turn. One of the judges, Odette Kahn, tried to get her ballot back at the close of the event. Spurrier declined to provide it after which she refused to speak to him, except to charge that he had falsified the results of the tasting.
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One of the winning winemakers, Warren Winiarski, received letters from people in the French wine business telling him that the results were a fluke. In essence, their letters argued that "'everyone knows' French wines are better than California wines 'in principle' and always will be.'" As recently as 2005, some of the judges refused to discuss the tasting; saying that to do so would be "too painful."
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No surprise, the French press virtually ignored the story. After nearly three months, Le Figaro published an article titled "Did the war of the cru take place?" It was sarcastic, described the results as "laughable," and said they "cannot be taken seriously." Six months after the tasting Le Monde wrote condescendingly and dismissively about the event.
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A rematch is scheduled but The Wall Street Journal reports:
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On the 30-year anniversary, May 24, organizers in Napa and England plan to stage simultaneous tastings of some of France's and California's finest wines. The initial plan was to stage a rematch of Judgment of Paris with the original reds from the early 1970s. (Many white wines don't age as well.) And there would be blind tastings of newer wines.
The organizers invited back the wineries that participated in the 1976 event, including Napa's Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Vineyard, which produced the top-ranked red. They also asked other leading wineries to submit newer reds and whites for tasting. But, despite months of requests and pleas, France's most highly regarded wine producers balked at submitting their wines to a competition with California wines.
Led by Paul Pontallier, manager of Château Margaux's Bordeaux estate, three of France's top producers argued that they didn't want their wines tasted side-by-side with the California wines, but instead Bordeaux against Bordeaux and California against California. The wines are too different to be compared, they argued. "When you listen to a Mozart symphony, you listen to all three movements -- you don't insert a Beethoven in the middle," Mr. Pontallier explains. Mr. Spurrier says he agreed to the French demand.
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What worries the French? We say bring it on. And to be completely fair, invite Chile, New Zealand, Argentina and Australia.

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