I have actually taken a trip to a lot of the world’s fantastic wine regions ever since, however this is my very first time in California, and my timing could not be much better; 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris, a wine occasion that altered the market permanently.
In 1976 a British wine merchant called Steven Spurrier arranged a blind wine tasting in Paris that would pit 10 of the very best bottles from Napa– 5 cabernet sauvignon and 5 chardonnay– versus 10 extraordinary French wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy. Spurrier, an importer of French wines, had a beneficial interest in seeing the French succeed, as it would increase the worth and eminence of his wines and keep the upstart Americans from elbowing their method onto high-end dining establishment wine lists. Spurrier presumed, as almost everybody did, that the famous French chateaux would control.
It wasn’t even close. The 1973 Stag’s Leap Cellars, the winery’s first-ever business vintage, took leading area in reds. Napa’s Chateau Montelena, who were just making chardonnay to preserve capital while they waited on their red grapes to come in, won the white classification. It’s tough to overemphasize the effect this had on the wine world. These wines almost nobody had actually become aware of, from an area nobody took seriously, had actually simply bested famous wineries like Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Haut-Brion, and Puligny-Montrachet, the wines that were the worldwide standard for the very best of the very best. A traditional cinematic underdog story, was, not remarkably, made into a movie, Bottle Shock, in 2008, starring Costs Pullman.
The Judgement put Napa on the map however likewise made it associated with those 2 grape varietals. I have actually come here to learn, 4 years later on, exactly what the long lasting results of that contest were and to find the brand-new manufacturers who are identifying where Napa goes next.
And I’m doing it in style. The hotel I’m remaining at, the Solage, in Calistoga has a fleet of brand new Mercedes parked out front for visitors to get for a spin. Minutes after signing in, I’m back on the road in a 450 horse power SL550 roadster racing south with the top down.
I will not reveal precisely how quick we’re going, however quick enough that my partner in the traveler seat goes from delighted and thrilled to borderline horrified. I ease off the gas, however we remain in a little bit of a rush. All year long Napa is commemorating the anniversary of the Judgement, and I have actually got an invite to an unique tasting arranged by the 2 initial winners.
We pull into the long driveway, meander past a few of the most spoiled grape vines out there and meet Matt Crafton, the wine maker at Chateau Montelena. Crafton wasn’t even alive in 1976 however is now responsible for crafting among Napa’s many famous wines.