Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Napa Chards: Judgment of Paris Revisited

The appearance of the move Bottle Shock at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year caused us to cast an eye backward to the the 1976 Judgment of Paris at which Napa Valley wines, that is, its Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, began to get worldwide recognition when preferred in blind tastings with the French classics. Judged by Frenchmen, no less.

Drinks magazine editor David Mahoney asked me to do a piece on how Napa Valley Chardonnays are doing today. The answer is, "quite well, thank you." The article, in the Summer 2008 issue, includes interviews with Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena (played in the film by Chris Pine), former Flora Springs winemaker Ken Deis, current Flora Springs communications director Sean Garvey, Shaun Richardson of Clos Pegase, and Jon Emmerich of Silverado.

Two interesting notes. One, most California Chardonnays were called Pinot Chardonnay back then, a piece of trvia that many of us have almost forgotten. Two, I talked with Steven Spurrier, who conceived of and conducted the Paris tastings, in Bordeaux during this year's primeurs tasting. The Decanter contributor is played in the film by the accomplished actor Alan Rickman, but that doesn't keep Spurrier from labeling the film a bit of bowdlerized trivia. He much preferred the real version.

Scratch a wine critic and find a film critic!

If you would like a pdf of the whole article courtesy of Drinks, please contact me at

Until next time....

Roger Morris

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