Happy Birthday America! There is no better way to celebrate than toasting with an American-made wine today.
Today, American wines rank among the best of the world. But it wasn’t always so.
For centuries fine wine was confined to prestigious European vineyards. Mentions of Bordeaux’s Cabernet Sauvignon or Burgundy’s Pinot Noir were found only in tasting notes or journals from noble families of royalty or those with enough wealth to travel across the Atlantic. These were the privileged few who could enjoy the sacred consumption of some of the world’s finest wines.
But in 1976, British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a unique blind tasting (the wines’ vineyards and producers were not revealed prior to tasting), known as The Judgment of Paris with California versus French wines. The judges were some of the most renowned wine critics with the world’s most elite palates. The outcome was an upset with two Napa Valley wines coming out on top: a 1973 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.
I would have loved to have been in the crowd to see the look on the judges’ faces when these California wines were announced over some of the world’s most elite French vineyards.
For more about the tasting, read George Taber’s Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. Taber, an American, was the only journalist attending the event.
- 2016 Bogle Essential Red, California (about $14 retail)
- 2016 Sterling Vineyards Napa Chardonnay, California (about $14 retail)
- 2016 Honig Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $19 retail)
- 2015 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $38 retail)
- 2015 Bell Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, California (about $55 retail)
- 2014 Chateau Montelena Caberent Sauvignon, California (about $63 retail)
- 2015 Reynolds Family Chardonnay, California (about $33 retail)