On the Judgement of Paris
MR BRuNo’S lETTER (August 2016 issue) questions the results of the 1976 Paris Tasting.
This event – which was created by Patricia Gallagher and myself under the auspices of my wine school l’Academie du Vin, to draw attention to the quality of wines made by ‘boutique wineries’ in California in the early 1970s – is covered in depth in George Taber’s book The Judgment of Paris (Scribner, 2005). At the end of the book are the individual judges’ scores for each wine. Examining the rankings of the two wines that ‘won’, you will see that Chateau Montelena received six 1st places, one 2nd, one 5th and one 9th. Meursault-Charmes, second on the 20-point scale, received six 2nd places, two 3rds and one 5th. Stag’s leap Wine Cellars received two 1st places, four 2nds, one 3rd, one 6th and one 8th. Mouton-Rothschild, which was placed second on the 20-point scale, received one 1st place, four 2nds, two 3rds, one 4th and one 10th.
In selecting the Best of Show wines from all the Platinum medal winners in the Decanter World Wine Awards, five judges taste all the wines within their categories and rank them, their top wine receiving one mark, their least favourite that of the number of wines in the flight, the winner being the lowest total scorer.
one can differ as to the validity of marks out of 20 or 100 if they are added up and divided by the number of tasters, as they were at the Paris Tasting, but one cannot argue with rankings. The Paris Tasting gave Montelena 132 points and Meursault-Charmes 126.5, a judgement confirmed by Montelena’s 22 to 23 on the ranking system. Stag’s leap Wine Cellars received 127.5 points and Mouton-Rothschild 126, 27 to 29 on the ranking system. Steven Spurrier, London