24 May 2012

Year 2, Day 144 (A Day In Wine History)

I'm not a sommelier, not do I claim to be one, and though I find the statement, "I'm not a wine expert, but I know what I like" rather absurd, that is the category I find myself in. However, over the years I have found myself leaning towards a greater appreciation of wine, while continuing to steer clear of the "boxed" variety. There may be some of that type that are quite good, but it's still the imagery of a middle-aged man with a "pot belly", clad only in ragged, grease-stained jeans and a stained white tank top t-shirt with a mason jar full of the aforementioned variety sitting on a couch (as equally stained as his previously mention choice of fashion) while watching the current NASCAR race on t.v. Any ideas on how to overcome this hurdle?
But I digress! This posting is one that is quite special itself. It was this day that will forever be remembered among the wine critics and enthusiasts alike.

In 1976, Steven Spurrier (whom also blogs for The Wine Society of India) arranged a wine tasting event - also referred to as the Judgement of Paris - in which a variety of wines from France and the Napa Valley of California were judged in a blind taste test. At this period in time, wines from the "New World" were considered substantially inferior to their French counterparts. One of those selected from California competed in the White Wines category was from a then fledgling vintner/winemaker, Jim Barrett, whom had just purchased Chateau Montelena just 4 years prior. Not only did his Chardonnay make an impression with the judges, it won its category... for a Premier Cru!

I first heard about this event on the NPR program, The Splendid Table , just a few years ago. According to the host, Lynn Rossetto Kasper, many of the judges involved in this tasting event still refuse to talk about it. In 1982, Jim handed over the Winemaker duties to his son, Bo Barrett. This piece of wine history is loosely translated in the film, Bottle Shock.

After hearing about this, then watching the movie, I became very intrigued in the wines of Chateau Montelena. Though I have yet to try their wines, the time to do so will be coming soon, as I plan on purchasing a couple bottles of their 1992 vintage (if they are still available) for my wife and I for our 20th anniversary this October. Since I wrote such a glowing piece for them on this day - their patch of wine history - if they would extend a discount for me? Probably not (nor would I actually expect one)... but one can dream, anyway.

Congratulations, Chateau Montelena!!

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