Home > History of Wine > A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 4 “[F]ine American wines can now hold their own with fine wines from France” The wines served at the early tastings

A History of the California Barrel Tastings: Part 4 “[F]ine American wines can now hold their own with fine wines from France” The wines served at the early tastings


This is the fourth in a series of posts surveying the history behind the MacArthur Beverages California Barrel Tasting and its predecessor Gerald Asher’s California Vintners Barrel Tasting.

Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

Rights owned by MacArthur Beverages. Used with permission.

The title quote is taken from Frank J. Prial writing in The New York Times about two French versus Californian wine tastings held during November, 1975.  The following summer William Rice in The Washington Post described the Judgement of Paris as “The latest in the continuing, if rather pointless, tasteoffs pitting American versus French wines”.  He noted that the winning wines from Chateau Montelena and Stags Leap Wine Cellars were “expensive” and from “small vineyards, with limited productions”.  A month after the tasting the wines were no longer available in Washington, DC.

There was a great increase in the number of new wineries in California through the 1970s and 1980s.  Several hundred new wineries opened in fact.  However, the number of high-quality wineries was much smaller.  This is reflected in the wines chosen for the various French versus American wine tastings of 1975 and 1976 as well as Gerald Asher’s and Addy Bassins’ California Barrel Tastings.  Look through the lists below and you’ll see such names repeat as Chappellet, Clos du Val, Ridge, and Stags Leap Wine Cellars.  Interestingly enough, on the French side, 1970 Chateau Montrose and 1971 Chateau Leoville Las Cases appear at both the November 1975 comparative tasting and the Judgement of Paris.

 

The First Tasting, November 1975
1970 Chateau Margaux
1970 Chateau Haut-Brion
1971 Chateau Leoville Las Cases
1971 Chateau Greysac
1970 Chateau La Tour de By
1970 Chateau Leoville Poyferre
1971 Chateau Montrose
1971 Mouton Cadet

1970 Sterling Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Chappellet Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Louis Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon
1972 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon
1972 Almaden, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Beaulieu Vineyards, Georges de Latour Private Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
NV Sebastiani Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Marques de Caceras, Rioja

The Second Tasting, Manhatten East chapter of Les Amis du Vin, November 1975
1972 David Bruce, Chardonnay
1973 Chappellet, Chardonnay
1972 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay
1972 Heitz Cellars, Chardonnay
1972 Mayacamas, Chardonnay
1972 Robert Mondavi, Chardonnay
1973 Spring Mountain, Chardonnay
1972 Louis Latour, Pinot Chardonnay
1973 Albert Pic, Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles
1973 Marquis de Laguiche, Chassagne-Montrachet

First Annual California Vintners Barrel Tasting Dinner, March 1976
1975 and 1974 Wente Brothers, Pinot Blanc
1975 and 1974 Chateau St Jean, Chardonnay
1975 and 1973 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay
1975 and 1974 Parducci, Chenin Blanc
1975 and 1972 Mirassou Vineyard, Chenin Blanc
1975 and 1974 Joseph Phelps, Johannisberg Riesling
1975 and 1973 Beaulieu, Johannisberg Riesling
1975 and 1972 Simi, Gewurztraminer
1975 and 1974 Monterey Vineyards, Zinfandel
1975 and 1974 Ridge, Lytton Springs, Zinfandel
1975 and 1974 Callaway, Petite Sirah
1975 and 1973 Robert Mondavi, Pinot Noir
1975 and 1972 Sterling, Merlot
1975 and 1973 Pedroncelli, Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 and 1972 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 and 1970 Louis M. Martini, Cabernet Sauvignon
1975 and 1969 Chappellet, Cabernet Sauvignon

The Judgement of Paris, May 1976
1973 Chateau Montelena, Chardonnay
1973 Spring Mountain, Chardonnay
1974 Chalone Vineyards, Chardonnay
1972 Freemark Abbey, Chardonnay
1972 Veedercrest Vineyards, Chardonnay
1973 David Bruce, Chardnonay
1973 Roulot, Meursault Charmes
1973 Joseph Drouhin, Beaune Clos des Mouches
1973 Ramonet-Prudhon, Batard-Montrachet
1972 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny-Montrachet “Les Pucelles”

1973 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Ridge Mountain Range, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Heitz Cellar, Martha’s Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon,
1972 Clos du Val, Cabernet Sauvignon
1971 Mayacamas, Cabernet Sauvignon
1969 Freemark Abbey, Cabernet Sauvignon
1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild
1970 Chateau Montrose
1970 Chateau Haut-Brion
1971 Chateau Leoville Las Cases

First Annual California Futures Barrel Tasting, June 1986
1984 Caymus, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Diamond Creek, Gravelly Meadow, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Diamond Creek, Red Rock Terrace, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Diamond Creek, Volcanic Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Dunn, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Girard, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Johnson-Turnbull, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Laurel Glen, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Long, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Joseph Phelps, Backus, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Joseph Phelps, Eisele, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Joseph Phelps, Insignia
1984 Pine Ridge, Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Pine Ridge, Stag’s Leap, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Pine Ridge, Andrus Reserve, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Lyeth, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Ridge, Monte Bello, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Merlot
1984 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Cask 23, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Steltzner, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 Johnson Turnbull, Cabernet Sauvignon
1984 William Hill, Cabernet Sauvignon

Next up: The sources

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