Ridge Monte Bello 1971.
It won first place at both the Napa and London tastings staged today.
In second place was Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973, which was the big winner the first time the comparative tasting of Cabernet-based wines from Bordeaux and California was held in Paris in 1976.
Heitz’s Martha’s Vineyard 1970, my pick to win this time around, ran third, tying with Mayacamas 1971.
Fifth place went to Clos Du Val 1972.
That makes a clean sweep in the first five places for California Cabernets. (Not that it matters all that much.) All of the Cabernets, except Ridge, are from Napa Valley.
The '71 Monte Bello was never a great wine in my view, but the vineyard does have a track record for aging, so let’s give it its due. The wine is also reminiscent of Bordeaux, with Château Latour as the model.
The results of this re-creation of the original Paris tasting may rev up the debate over high-alcohol wines in the industry and in public forums. My recollection is that most of the wines, both from California and Bordeaux, fell into the 12.5 to 13 percent alcohol levels.
Let the debate begin….