In the Spring of 1976, an English wine merchant, Steven Spurrier, organized a blind tasting in Paris. Spurrier owned a small wine shop and a wine school in Paris. He and his American partner, Patricia Gallagher, recruited nine respected French judges for the blind tasting. The tasting has become known as the Judgment of Paris. They were asked to judge twelve vintages of California wines including six Chardonnays and six Cabernet Sauvignons. Those California wines were pitted against the best wines from France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux regions. When the blind tasting was over, the wine world was shocked. The 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, scored first. Prior to this event, the world seemed to accept as gospel truth that only France could produce high quality wines. The news that California wines had been judged better than their French counterparts changed that attitude forever.
In 2008, a movie was made based on the events. Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman, Chris Pine, and Bill Pullman, is a controversial movie. Steven Spurrier himself has questioned the accuracy of the movie’s script.