Impress your dinner guests with this wine story
The Clarion Hotel® Post in Gothenburg boasts one of Sweden's foremost collections of American wines. Here's the story of when the wines from the American West Coast knocked out the reigning wine masters.
The year is 1976, and English wine merchant Stephen Spurrier has organised a blind tasting with ten red and ten white wines.
The main characters are some of France's top wine connoisseurs.
Among the wines on the table are a top-quality Chardonnay and some of the world's most famous Bordeaux wines.
The French wines are to be compared with some young upstarts made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, harvested and aged in Napa Valley, California.
The shock in France
Everyone in the room assumes that the French wines will win. It's a wine country considered the undisputed producer of the world's best wines.
But as you've probably guessed, shock, scandal, and similar words and expressions were used when wines from California won the blind tastings in both categories. Both the white and the red.
Among the red wines participating in the test are Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973 (Napa Valley), Ridge Vineyards 1971 (Montebello), Château Montrose 1970 (Bordeaux), and Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux). Among the white wines from California, we find Chateau Montelena 1973 and Chalone Vineyard 1974. From some of the most expensive vineyards in the world, we have Burgundy Meursault Charmes Roulot 1973 and Beaune Clos des Mouches Joseph Drouhin 1973, both from France.
The Judgment of Paris
The well-known wine houses could hardly believe the verdict, which has since become known as "The Judgment of Paris". In 2006, the same tasting was repeated, called "The Re-enactment", and again it was the wines from California that were voted the best – both red and white.
American wines didn't become popular among ordinary people overnight after the blind test in the 1970s. After all, wine had been cultivated in California since the Spanish planted the first vines in the 18th century. The American wine industry gained momentum with the great gold rush in the 19th century, and about 60 years later, the first wine from Napa County arrived. Things moved quickly after that.
Today, more Chardonnay is grown in California than in France. However, the Golden State is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir grapes.
So even though the big blind tasting shock didn't put American wine on the world map immediately, it certainly helped significantly increase interest in the years that followed.
Wine tasting at Clarion Hotel® Post
And where are we going with this story? Well, next time you're in Gothenburg, you can book a private wine tasting with a sommelier together with your friends, family, or colleagues.
And that's when you hit them with the anecdote from Paris and 1976, while sipping on a Stag's Leap and revealing that it was indeed the winner.
Clarion Hotel® Post boasts one of Sweden's most extensive wine cellars when it comes to wines of American origin.
Here, you'll be guided through sparkling, red, and white wines by a sommelier, while enjoying perfectly paired delicacies served from the Norda restaurant.
"We have a vast wine list and wine cellar. Primarily, we have American wines, especially from Oregon."
"We can safely say that our wine list offers the most extensive selection of Oregon wine," says Charlotta Nordevik, sommelier and restaurant manager and assistant food & beverage manager at Clarion Hotel® Post.
Sent an expert to Oregon
Charlotta explains that when the hotel was to open in Gothenburg's former post office, they drew inspiration from other hotels that had been particularly successful with their wine selection.
"We were going to open the Norda restaurant, which is a concept where the American East Coast meets the Swedish West Coast, so the USA was an obvious choice to focus on in our wine list," says Charlotta, adding:
"Oregon was a relatively unknown wine region for us in Sweden, so there was an opportunity to do something new that no one else in the country specialised in. Kenneth Gustafsson, who runs Fine Wines and Wine Mechanics, was commissioned to travel to Oregon and find the best wines. He came home with hundreds of different wines, which were then tasted and tested. After that, we built the wine cellar," explains Charlotta.
The wine cellar at Clarion Hotel® Post can now be reserved for wine tastings, as well as dinner for groups of up to ten people. You can find more information here.
"If you're a guest at the Norda restaurant, you can choose from several American wines by the glass, and of course, taste your way through the extensive wine list, and even visit the wine cellar itself," says Charlotta.
Top three wine favourites
Naturally, Strawberry wonders: Can the sommelier name some of her favourite wines?
Charlotta has to think for a moment but is decisive when she picks out the following:
Dobbes Family Estate (2009)
Adelsheim Winderlea (2009)