’76 all over again . . .

A blind tasting of wines first compared 30 years ago was deja vous all over again.

In May 1976, nine French wine experts judged New World cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays against their beloved red Bordeaux and white Burgundies in a blind tasting.

Judges ranked the California wines as superior. The French were shocked.

They were also a tad unsporting about the whole thing. During the tasting

the French judges made now-infamous aspersions about the wines. Comments such as “That is clearly from California!,” when tasting a sub-par French wine, and “OK, back to France!,” when their taste buds were actually craving a California wine, have haunted the French to this day.

The French consoled themselves at the time with a new twist on sour grapes — they said well, okay, maybe, but the California wines surely wouldn’t hold up as well, over time.

But they have. In this new tasting, which included the same wines compared in ’76, the “top four winners were Californian.”

Ridge Monte Bello 1971, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973, Heitz Martha’s Vineyard 1970 and Mayacamas 1971 (in a tie), and Clos du Val 1972.

I actually drink a fair amount of French wine, and I delight in finding delicious, modestly-priced French bottles. (I’d delight in the expensive bottles too, if I weren’t on a budget, but that’s a whole other subject.) I’m also enough of a romantic that I’d be heartbroken if the French wine industry ever collapsed.

But I also think it’s silly for the French to think they have a corner on the intelligence, refinement, and commitment to esthetics that it takes to craft fine wines. Obviously, they don’t. And you know what else? That’s okay. Because the fact is, we ought to be celebrating our common culture and heritage and values, rather than projecting our insecurities and letting ourselves be pushed about, pawn-like, by our baser impulses. Don’t you think?

[tags] wine [/tags]

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