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When it Comes to Wine, Who Reigns Supreme? Old vs New

France vs California

In 1976 British Wine Merchant, Steven Spurrier, tried to answer this exact question and the famed Judgement of Paris was born! On May 24th 1976, French judges carried out blind tastings on top Chardonnays as well as Cabernet from California and Bordeaux from France.

On September 26th 2019 we created our own “Judgement of Paris” at the Madera Neighborhood in Mountain View! Neighbors enjoyed a sparkling toast, 6 wines (3 from California and 3 from France) which were all tasted, discussed, and savored!

California vs French Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Blends were the stars with the crowd split between which Country took top honor. A lively discussion of how wine is made, what terroir is and why it matters, as well as how to evaluate a wine (YES – there is a way to drink wine educationally) ensued.

Friendships were forged and good fun was had by all as the debate continued over the course of the evening.

While California was the surprise winner in both categories at the 1976 judgement of Paris, there was no clear winner at our tasting in 2019. One thing we have learned for sure, is that the debate will forever continue and as more countries begin producing top quality and affordable wines the true winners are wine drinkers!

If you enjoyed the tasting at Madera or were unable to attend and want to recreate your own tasting, here are a few tips for fun and easy comparative wine tastings you can do with your friends and family!

If you would like to replicate the Madera “Judgement of Paris”, the below wines were featured. All are available for purchase at Palo Alto Fine Wine & Spirits (3163 Middlefield Rd, 650-494-3640).

William Fevre Champ Royaux Chablis 2018 (Burgundy, France)
MacRostie Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2017 (Sonoma, California)

Bouchard Bourgogne Rouge Pinot Noir 2017 (Burgundy, France)
Hahn “SLH” Pinot Noir 2017 (Santa Lucia Highlands, California)

Château de Fontenille Bordeaux Rouge 2016 (Bordeaux, France)
Round Pond “Kith & Kin” Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 (Napa Valley, California)

Plan a Comparative Tasting at Home:

1. Select a Theme, a few suggestions:
    Old World (France, Spain, Italy) vs New World (US, Australia, NZ, South Africa, South America)
    Grape Varietal Comparative - ie Sauvignon Blanc from different areas around the world
    Blind Tasting - Bring wine in a brown bag and see who palette reigns supreme
2. Set the Parameters
    Select the maximum price point per bottle
    How many wines you will be tasting?
    Set a time frame to taste
3. Provide Snacks (cheese, charcuterie, olives, fruit, and crackers are popular selections), set out dump buckets, and plenty of water!
4. Have Fun!!

A huge congratulations to Stephanie from Madera who won a private sommelier tasting for 6 people. The winning pictures from her Instagram post can be seen below. Thanks for participating Stephanie!

Share your wine tasting experiences and ideas with us on social @prometheus_apartments


Karen Gessert
Certified Sommelier, Certified Specialist of Wine, California Wine Appellation Specialist