Yesterday, we told you a little bit about “Bottle Shock,” the movie that details — with a mix of accuracy and Hollywood winking — the story of the great Paris Tasting of 1976.
At that tasting, California wines cumulatively outscored their French counterparts, even though the judges were French.
It was a great embarrassment both to the judges and the chateaux that produced the French wines, and a great victory for California’s wineries. At long last, the best wines from the Golden State could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of France, long considered the world’s winemaking capital.
That judging made an impact that echoes to this very day. Once out-of-the-way farmland that people passed through on the way to someplace else, Napa Valley and Sonoma County have become destinations for wine lovers from all over the world, complete with world-class resorts and restaurants.
The California estate that’s featured in “Bottle Shock” is Chateau Montelena. The winery is located in the Napa Valley, although its winning entry in the Paris Judging was a Chardonnay from Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley.
Now comes the ironic news that Chateau Montelena has been purchased by Chateau Cos-d’Estournel.
Yes, that’s right: by a FRENCH winery.
And that purchase may be just the beginning. With a strong Euro and a weak U.S. economy, there seldom has been a better time for Europeans to invest in California vineyards.