By Fred Swan
In 1976, a competitive tasting of French and American wines was held in France. Steven Spurrier, an English wine merchant based in Paris created the event, now known as The Judgement of Paris, to highlight progress made with French grape varieties in the United States. To everyone’s great surprise, the French judges voted California wines best among both the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
That was a watershed event for California wine, proof it had the potential to be every bit as good as, if still different than, French wines. But the tasting was just one example of the way in which the history of wine in France, America and England have been intertwined for centuries.
This week, Steven Spurrier, now among the world’s most respected authorities on wine, is coming to San Francisco to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris. This is not another competition, nor will the wines be restricted to Cabernet and Chardonnay. It is a celebration of the achievements of all three countries in wine and a
recognition of the influence each has had on the other. And there will be sparkling wine and Pinot Noir and a Rhone variety too.
The events in San Francisco, a lunch and a dinner, are truly unique opportunities. We will not see their like for the 50th anniversary of the tasting. This is a chance to meet Steven Spurrier, hear his thoughts on the state of Californian and French wine then and now. You can hear the story of the Judgement of Paris directly from him. You’ll taste wines that take us decades back, but also wines that show what’s new and exciting today. If you have a copy of George Taber’s book, The Judgement of Paris, Steven will be happy to sign it too.
The dinner, on Thursday, May 12 will feature nine wines paired with a four-course dinner. Further details and tickets are available here. The lunch, at noon on Friday, May 13, will include sparkling wine, a commemorative Chardonnay from Grgich and a 2000 Ridge Monte Bello. For more information and tickets for the lunch, see this Eventbrite page.