Judgment of Paris has twists and turns. The inside news


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Joe Becerra

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The movie “Bottle Shock” is currently playing in selected theaters. The movie tells the story of Chateau Montelena of the Napa Valley topping the best of French white wines in the 1976 taste off known as the “Judgment of Paris.” Well, we experienced a bottle shock of our own at the Family Winemakers event held in San Francisco this past Sunday and Monday. We found out at this event that almost all the grapes that went into making Montelena’s winning 1973 Chardonnay wine came from Sonoma County and not the Napa Valley.

“Are you sure about this,” we asked Katherine Bacigalupi, who was working the John Tyler Wines table. A framed typewritten page at her table had brought this information to our attention. Katherine explained that the typewritten page was the agreement for Chateau Montelena to buy 14.165 tons of Chardonnay grapes from Katherine’s grandfather, Charles Bacigalupi. These grapes came from the Bacigalupi Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Another 20 tons of the Montelena Chardonnay came from another grower in the Alexander Valley. This is not mentioned in the movie according to the Bacigalupis. The Bacigalupis tell us that in the book “Judgment of Paris” by George Taber all this information is detailed.

All of this was quite a revelation to us. We have not read Taber’s book nor read about this in any publication over the years. We wondered why more attention has not been brought to this amazing fact. You know what they say in the wine world, “Great wines are made in the vineyards.”

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.

2 thoughts on “Judgment of Paris has twists and turns. The inside news”

  1. Taber’s book really should be required reading to see this movie. Bottle Shock is not a historical account, it is a romanticized version of events paid for by the Barrett family. That said, I’m excited to see that movie and the movie of Taber’s book. Baciaglaupi vineyard still produces some great grapes as can be seen in various wines, specifically Rudd’s Bacigalupi Chardonnay.

  2. Shame to let the facts get in the way of a good story. What’s most interesting about the invoice for “Pinot” Chardonnay are the harvest Brix readings that created the “bottle shock.” Cameo theater in St. Helena was only a third full for the movie. Not a sellout like Ratatoullie, but then again, I think Ratatoullie was based on real events.

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