Elvis on Ed Sullivan.
Jimi Hendrix playing The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.
The publishing of Kerouac’s On The Road.
The publication of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”
The staging of Ridgely Torrence’s “Three Plays for a Negro Theatre.”
The release of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
American Music, Literature, Art. They would never be the same again. These are the moments that change forever the tides of our cultural history.
The production of well-made wine is an artisan enterprise. It is artistic, it is cultural. And like all things cultural, it changes. It is subject to whim and cataclysm both.
As Stephen Jay Gould posited decades ago, Darwinism, be it social or otherwise, is not necessarily a slow, steady arc of change. It is often stagnation and complacency, eviscerated and recalibrated by sudden, dramatic paradigm shifts that forever change the courses of development.
Thirty-five years ago this month, such an event happened to the world of wine, and specifically, to America. To California. We know this event now as The Judgment of Paris.
For a fuller run-down on what exactly this historic event was all about, please click here. The short version is this; in a blind tasting in 1976, with a panel of some of the finest palates in the world of wine — a tasting that pitted the grand old houses of Bordeaux against what were then the upstart young turks of the Californian “new world” — the bulk of the top honors went to the Californians. A viticultural “shot heard around the world.”
Or was it? Had California truly “arrived?” The French response to the tasting (a response shared by many members of the viticultural intelligentsia) was twofold: a) the wines may have showed well, but they would never age, and b) it was a fluke.
Despite the fact that sales patterns changed almost overnight (suddenly, “fine wine” didn’t just come from Europe any more), the rumblings of doubt continued to be felt.
Finally, the question could lay unanswered no longer, it had to be addressed! So, in 2006, 30 years later, the reenactment was staged. To address the issue of ageability, all the original red wine vintages were tasted. To answer the “fluke” question, young Cabernets were tasted.
If you’re reading this blog, you likely know what happened. The 1971 Monte Bello, which had come in second behind Stag’s Leap amongst the California producers (and 5th overall out of the top 10) in the original tasting, swept the results, taking top honors at both the London and Napa tastings. And the 2000 Monte Bello won the young Cabernet competition.
So much for the debate. Questions answered, argument over.
Starting May 1st, and running through May 24th (the actual anniversary day for both tastings), we will be celebrating this historic happening, and specifically, the incomparably significant role the Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello played in these dramas. Here are the details:
–Judgement of Paris Anniversary–
May 24 marks the 5th anniversary of the re-enactment and the 35th anniversary of the original tasting. In celebration of these historic occasions, we are offering special pricing on our 2007 Monte Bello through May 24.
$125 through May 24 (regularly $145)
Special Member Pricing
Monte Bello Collector Members – $100 (750mL)
ATP & Z List Members – $115
We are proudly pouring the 2007 Monte Bello in our tasting rooms, and we invite you to share in this delicious taste of history.
Categories: Bordeaux varietals, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, History, Merlot, Monte Bello, Offerings, Paul Draper, Petit Verdot, Press Reviews, Ridge Memorabilia, Tasting Flights, Varietals & Blends, Vineyards, Viticultural Salmagundi, Wine Clubs, Wine Tales, Winemaking