Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Judgement in Cliftonville

The January wine club was inspired by ‘Judgement in Paris’

If ever there was a wine-themed Cinderella story, it would have to be the 1976 Paris Tasting, also known somewhat satirically as the "Judgement of Paris." This historic wine tasting has become a landmark event for the California wine industry in general and was a pivotal turning point for the Napa Valley in particular and the inspiration for this months tasting.

You can read the long version about the history to this event, at the end of the Blog.

 Basically blind tasting Old World against New World.

To start a little waffle about the Old & New wines.

Old World Wine Definition

Old World wine generally refers to wine made in Europe. However, its cultural roots go back to the Roman Empire where the first techniques to produce, store and distribute wine were developed. Since this time, Old World wine has evolved through generations of family wine making.
Old World Wine Regions include:
Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Germany, Greece Hungary, Israel, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus, Switzerland, England, Macedonia

New World Wine Definition

The term New World refers to countries colonised by Western Europe and regions that are new to wine production. New World wine regions adopted the successful ideas from the Old World and expanded on them. Most of the New World wine regions were started within the last 100 years and benefit from modern agriculture, such as vineyards designed to fit tractors and industrial irrigation.
New World Wine Regions include: United States, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, China, India, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico

Without entrenched traditions, New World areas seek to push the boundaries of what is possible. The areas focus on technology and efficiency and tend to be more susceptible to popular trends. The New World style focuses on commercial success and making wine that is ready to be enjoyed today. Because New World regions focus on popular trends, these techniques tend to spread more quickly into other regions.

So on with the evenings events before you fall asleep :(

A smaller group this time had a few advantages, space to hang the coats up, just one bottle of Processco to start the evening off, mainly drunk by the girls, talking of starting the evening off, why do all the girls gravitate together in one room talking girlie stuff including the very important VPL and all the boys in the other, talking...well who knows what ... or maybe THAT is the reason we separate :)

As a small group we could all fit round the table and we were able to hear all the different conversations and more importantly reach all the food on the table, however, we all missed the four that couldn't make it, two had an evening with 'other' friends, another travelling back from the Alps and one waiting at home for his return ready with a big sloppy kiss (we think not !)

Eight of us compared:

Old World Loire Sauvignon Blanc v New World Australian Sauvignon Blanc

Old World French Malbec v New World Argentine Malbac

The first two wines were tried together, by that I don't mean mixed in the same glass, we had two separate glasses, the challenge for us was remembering which one we'd poured in which !

Touraine French Sauvignon Blanc 2012 12.5% £6.99 from Morrisons

Margaret River Australian Sauvignon Blanc 2011 12.5% £7.99 from M & S
We concluded that both of these had a good rounded flavour, with the New World being slightly more zesty & citrusy.  The Touraine was a much more subtle elegant wine. Both were liked by all except Mark (white wine hater).  We would recommend either of these wines.
The second two again tried together, even more confusing which one in which glass, you wouldn't believe just how confusing and how good we are at confusing each other, well actually maybe you would..
The French Simply Malbec 2012 12.5% from tesco £4.99 , sorry no picture, was a disappointment compared to its New World cousin, but then again this delicious Argentine Malbec did cost £14.99 (worth every penny).
Argentine Malbec from M & S 2012 a whopping 15%

This wine was so dark it was nearly black, bold, rich & captivating, or so the bottle says, you know what those Argentines are like with their labels.  Slightly spicy and toffee coated plums with a generous finish.  Here's the thing though - Its a French winemaker Herve Joyaux, who comes from a long line of wine makers....
However, for Nick, he preferred his Monster !
Monster energy drink investigated

The makers of Monster, an energy drink with the caffeine equivalent of seven cans of Coca-Cola !!

Monster energy drink contains- Carbonated water, Sugar, Glucose syrup, Acidity regulators, (Citric acid, Sodium citrate) Natural flavours, Taurine, Natural colours (Anthocyanins), Panax ginseng root extract, Caffeine, Preservatives (Sorbic acid, Benzoic acid), Sweeteners (Sucralose, Acesulfame, Potassium), Vitamins (Niacin(B3), Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (B12), Vitamin B12, Salt, D-Glucuronolacetone, Inositol, Guarana seed extract, Maltodextrin.
Nick, you need to stop drinking these !!

Well time to stick a cork in it.

Bye S x

Carry on reading for the background to the evenings tastings:

Judgement in Paris
As the brainchild of British wine enthusiast, Steve Spurrier, who owned both a small wine shop and a prestigious wine school, L'Academie du Vin, in the heart of Paris, the blind tasting was designed to shine a bright spotlight on the quality of wines coming out of California to the French wine community and as it promptly played out, the wine world at large.

After scouting out the best California contenders for both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon and selecting the French contestants, all of stellar repute, Spurrier set up what would be called by some as the, "Tasting of the Century." Though Spurrier did not expect California to take the cake by any means, he believed it would be good exposure for American wine and exceedingly educational for key players in the French wine industry and beyond.

On May 24, 1976, nine well-qualified, French judges including representatives from the AOC regulatory board, Institut Oenologique de France (the Wine Institute of France), and a handful of top Parisian restaurant owners and sommeliers, all representing the cream of the French oenology crop, came together to take part in a blind tasting that essentially pit California Chardonnay against the crème de la crème of white Burgundy and California Cab against idols of all idols, the top Grands Crus from Bordeaux, two of which were the renown first growths of Mouton Rothschild and Haut Brion.

The Paris Wine Tasting Showdown

In what began as a fairly low-profile tasting so far as the media was concerned, ended up rocking the wine world right out of its orbit with a now historic Time's, piece entitled, "Judgement of Paris," written by George Taber, the sole journalist on site (and later made into a full-fledged book by the same name). Right out of the gates, the French judges, compared and contrasted California's offerings with the royal French wine lineup, leaving several scathing remarks in their recorded wake, clearly intended for the New World wines, but ironically distributed to a few of the French contenders.

The Paris Wine Tasting Results

California took on the best of Bordeaux and Burgundy and won on both battlegrounds, taking first place with the 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellar's S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. The runner-ups were the 1970 Mouton-Rothschild and 1973 Meursault Charmes Roulot.

The repercussions of the Paris Tasting were far-reaching. First and perhaps foremost, it seriously raised interest levels for California's wines in both domestic and international markets. Second, it spurred rapid interface between French and American vintners, taking best practices from both sides of the pond and allowing for the open exchange of ideas, technology and tried and true tradition to be readily communicated. Finally, aside from placing the Napa Valley firmly on the global wine map, the Paris Tasting also validated many of the new winery startups and attracted many more in the process, effectively doing more than its fair share to make the Napa Valley the food and wine icon it is today

Taken from an article by Stacey Slinkard.
The Paris Tasting has also been thoroughly memorialised through the movie Bottle Shock, a 2008 independent film that is roughly based on the 1976 Paris Tasting, featuring components of Chateau Montelena's story to stardom.