Happy 4th friends! While there are certain things that first come to mind when one thinks of July 4th, such as a sea of red, white and blue, bbq outings and most importantly celebrating our great nation, there is something you might not have thought about. For this edition of Out of the Barrel, we’re going to add a little twist and talk about a historical wine event that happened not too long ago.
In 1976, the same year as America’s bicentennial anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, there was an event that turned the wine world upside down and put U.S. wine on the map. That event was The Judgement of Paris. Steven Spurrier put together the blind tasting and had 9 of the top wine critics, sommeliers and writers from France to be a part of the tasting. The tasting was simple, the wines of France went up against the wines of California to see who would win. No one ever thought that the wines of California (which is where the U.S. wines were chosen from) could ever match up to the legendary wines of France. By now you guys can probably see where I’m going with this. To the upset of the French, both the red and white wine winners came from the Napa Valley in California. For the red, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay for the white.
There is a movie based off The Judgment of Paris called Bottle Shock. It shares more about Steven Spurrier and the winery Chateau Montelena, which was where the winning Chardonnay came from. Overall the movie does a nice job of sharing about The Judgement of Paris, but like all movies that are based off of a true story, there are a few things in the film that were adjusted/left out. It is still an excellent wine movie and I highly recommend checking it out!
Another recommendation if you want to learn more about this legendary tasting is a documentary called Somm 3, which features Steven Spurrier in the film. I won’t give too much away, but he shares about the tasting from his point of view and how it influenced the world of wine afterwards. There was also something in Somm 3 that caught my eye while I was watching the film one evening.
During a scene where the crew was filming Spurrier in his home there was a bottle on the counter that I found interesting. After rewinding the scene a few times, I paused it and went up to the screen to investigate. There was something familiar about the bottle and after looking it over and later getting in touch with the director of the film, the bottle on the counter was indeed Bluestone’s 2014 Estate Grown Chardonnay, which was in the Governor's Case in 2016. The wines from the Governor’s Case are sent all over the world to wine experts, writers, etc and to our knowledge is how one of our bottles would have ended up in England, which is where Spurrier lives. How cool is that!
That’s our fun wine history lesson for this week's edition of Out of the Barrel. Whether your July 4th is filled with wine, bbq, family and friends, or simply just enjoying the day, have a wonderful and safe holiday! Cheers!