Judgment of Paris
Judgment of Paris
By George M Taber
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9780743247511, 288pp.)
Publication Date: September 13, 2005
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Told for the first time by the only reporter present, this is the true story of the legendary Paris Tasting of 1976 -- a blind tasting where French judges shocked the industry by choosing unknown California wines over France's best -- and its revolutionary impact on the world of wine.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History houses, amid its illustrious artifacts, two bottles of wine: a 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. These are the wines that won at the now-famous Paris Tasting in 1976, where a panel of top French wine experts compared some of France's most famous wines with a new generation of California wines. Little did they know the wine industry would be completely transformed as a result, sparking a golden age for viticulture that extends beyond France's hallowed borders -- to Australia, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, and across the globe.
Then Paris correspondent for Time magazine, George M. Taber recounts this seminal contest and its far-reaching effects, focusing on the three gifted unknowns behind the winning wines: a college lecturer, a real estate lawyer, and a Yugoslavian immigrant. At a time when California was best known for cheap jug wine, these pioneers used radical new techniques alongside time-honored winemaking traditions to craft premium American wines that could stand up to France's finest.
With unique access to the main players and a contagious passion for his subject, Taber renders this historic event and its tremendous aftershocks in captivating prose, bringing to life an eclectic cast and magnificent settings. For lovers of wine and anyone who enjoys a story of the entrepreneurial spirit of the new world conquering the old, this is an illuminating and deeply satisfying tale.
George M. Taber is the author of Judgment of Paris, the 2006 wine book of the year for Britain's Decanter magazine. His second book, To Cork or Not to Cork, won the Jane Grigson Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for best book on wine and spirits and the Andre Simon Award for best wine book. Before turning to writing wine books, Taber was a reporter and editor for Time.
"Here's the inside tale of the dramatic tasting session that transformed the wine industry. George Taber was the only reporter there, and he tells the tale with the same authority, depth and clarity of the American wines that won. His tale has fascinating characters, great locales, and a fine bouquet."
-- Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin
"For those of us who were lucky enough to be part of the fun at Steven Spurrier's wine shop in Paris, this book is a trip down memory lane. For everyone else, Taber brings the event to life brilliantly with insightful portraits and a reporter's eye for telling detail."
-- Don and Petie Kladstrup, authors of Wine & War
"Nearly thirty years later, Taber's book outlines an historic event that is relevant, captivating and compelling -- even for non-wine aficionados. The petty wine war that the Paris Tasting set off had one big winner: good wine. And one big loser: good wine...from France."
-- Christian Vannequé, Former chief sommelier at the Tour d'Argent restaurant in Paris and one of the judges at the Paris Tasting
"George Taber was alone among journalists to attend the wine world's Declaration of Independence from French supremacy. He tells the story of the California wine revolution with verve showing how the upstarts managed to surprise the complacent French. This is a rare book about wine to be sipped, not gulped."
-- William Echikson, author of Noble Rot
"The Judgment of Paris is a fascinating recounting of that historic event that was like a lightning rod to the budding wine scene in California. It is a must read for anyone interested in wine."
-- Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director Montrachet and President Daniel Johnnes Wines
"Spirited, intelligent, and a deliciously entertaining good read. Essential for anyone who has ever enjoyed a good bottle of California wine."
-- Anthony Dias Blue, Executive Director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition
"I devoured Judgment of Paris and it is dazzling -- reads like a thriller, with the added benefit that the scholarship is impeccable too!"
-- Orley Ashenfelter, the Joseph Douglas Green 1895 Professor of Economics at Princeton University and Publisher of Liquid Assets: The International Guide to Fine Wines