Wednesday, June 27, 2007

judgement of paris

i am half-way through this amazing book by a new york times journalist. as the book cover suggests, it's about wine, but it's not just about terroir, nose, bouquet or things like that.

well, the story began in 1976 with a little-known blind tasting event in paris that showcased the best of france and the best of california, and the result was more than shocking (and even embarassing to some people). needless to say, as how all amazing story ends, david beat goliath and the rest is just history. to many (esp the americans), the event's considered to be the turning point that led to the popularization and respect for new world wine still growing to this date.

but the book's more than a mere chronicle of that event - actually the author only spent 5 pages (out of a total 300) describing what happened in that historic day - it went way before from the days of early california settlement, to the decline through the days of prohibition and the "second revolution" of california wine industry after world war ii.

it's also a series of personal stories of the pioneers from all walks of life and all around the world, who shared a vision, chased their dreams, and bit by bit, collectively built napa valley from scratch, and in the process, created a miracle and accomplished the mission impossible. to me, it's particularly interesting to read how those legendary vineyards such as montelena, cakebread and stag's leap wine cellars started.

a chapter was also dedicated to the development of chateaux and vineyards in bordeaux - for example, the author mentioned the first time a "grand cru" estate appears in english literature in as early as 1663, when chateau haut-brion was referred to as "ho bryan". that's a total 200 years before the famous 1885 classification was made. good information for trivia nights.

i certainly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in wine. it told you so much more than any other books around.

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