Thursday, May 25, 2006

Say It Ain't Sault

In a blind taste-test, California wines beat their French counterparts

A handful of venerable Californian wines have once again beaten their French counterparts - in a re-run of the Paris Tasting of 1976.

Against all expectations the Cabernets – Ridge Monte Bello 1971, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973, Mayacamas 71, Heitz 70 and Clos du Val 72 – were voted superior to their rivals in Bordeaux.

In yesterday's extraordinary series of coordinated tastings in London and California, hosted by Steven Spurrier, some of the world's most eminent tasters found the Californian wines to have retained more of their verve over the years than the Bordeaux.

Out in Cali, they're crowing.

Who says California wines don't age?

The French do. Repeatedly.

Yet Gaul is biting its tongue today after California smoked France Wednesday in a cross-continental tasting of wines that have matured in cellars for three decades. The California Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines placed first through fifth, followed by four wines from France's hallowed Bordeaux region and then another California Cab.

The earlier "Judgment of Paris" was a sniff heard round the world

At the tasting of 10 red and 10 white wines, evenly split between French and American in both classes, the panel awarded the top place in both categories to Californian wine. A Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 1973 topped the white wines, beating famous French names such as Puligny-Montrachet.

In the red category, a Stag's Leap Cabernet-Sauvignon 1973, now unobtainable, beat names such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild 1973 (now roughly £100 a bottle).

There was only one journalist there. The French media stayed away, assuming the result would be a bore.

Eh, good for California. I'm not a wine-guy, personally. If I need to drink a red, I'll usually reach for a bottle of Hungarian "Bull's Blood," usually under $10. Is there a beer version of this? I think some of the new world brews, such as Maudite from Quebec and Ommegang from New York state and even some of the higher-end offerings from Stoudt, which is just up the road from me here, might hold their own against the best Belgians and Germans.

And if anyone's seeking volunteers for that taste test ... Me!! Me!! Oooooh!! Over here!!