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Judgement of Paris Returns- Moscow Style

Posted: Monday, 28 November 2011 17:13

Judgement of Paris Returns- Moscow Style

Nov 28 : Steven Spurrier, the well-known English journalist used to be a Bordeaux merchant in 1976 when he organised what was historically termed as the Judgement of Paris. He could have hardly predicted the far-reaching consequences of the victory of Californian wines over their French counterparts. Nor could he imagine that 35 years later he would be conducting a similar tasting in Moscow, writes Eleonora Scholes from Moscow.

It was Elena Porman, managing director of The Moscow International Wine Expo (MIWE), who convinced Spurrier to come to Russia. While other wine celebrity Brits had accepted invitations to visit this country, at times more than once, Steven Spurrier, incredibly, had never walked on Red Square nor experienced the Russian wine scene before.

The launch of MIWE, Russia’s first wine lifestyle event, coupled with the 35th anniversary of the Judgement of Paris, was a perfect occasion to introduce Spurrier to the Russians. And what could be a better way to do it than organise a tasting of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon that would evoke the spirit of the legendary Paris event?

The Judgement of Moscow was not a re-creation of the original tasting. Yet, it was clearly inspired by it and promoted the same idea – to give an equal chance for a fair assessment of wines from traditional and relatively new areas.

The event was divided into two tastings. Chardonnay wines were present on the first day, and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, including Cabernet-based blends followed the next day. Each tasting featured 10 wines. The selection was made by Spurrier from wines available in the Russian market and sold in the same price range.

Along with Spurrier, the panel of judges included 6 Russian experts and sommeliers, all well-known personalities on the local wine scene. They were Eleonora Scholes, Anton Panasenko, Pavel Shvets, Igor Serdyuk, Karina Sogoyan and Margarita Krasnopolskaya. The wines were tasted blind, and the judges used a 20-point scale as in the original 1976 tasting. An overall ranking was established according to the average grade of each wine.

Tasting open to public

The Judgement of Moscow was also open to the public who tasted the same wines. Spurrier invited the tasters in the audience to submit their individual lists of top 5 wines. All entries were further ranked by summing up the results for each wine. Thus, the intrigue of the Moscow Tasting was in having two rankings – an official one from the judges, and the second unofficial one as “the people’s choice”.

After submitting their sheets but before announcing the results, the judges discussed the wines – something that wasn’t done in Paris 35 years ago. Some discussions were quite heated, especially with Chardonnay wines, that would at times yield opposite reactions from the judges.

And the winners were... rather predictably, New World wines receiving top rankings in both the categories. In the Chardonnay tasting, Amelia Chardonnay 2008 by Concha y Toro from Chile was ranked first by the panel. Among Cabernet Sauvignon, it was Australian Coonawarra 2007 by Petaluma. The audience voted for 2009 Chassagne-Montrachet by Fontaine-Gagnard from Burgundy as their top Chardonnay, and Sondraia 2007 by Poggio al Tesoro in Bolgheri, Italy in the Cabernet category.

Comparing the results between the panel and the audience Steven Spurrier noted, “It is very clear that Moscow is a red wine city. The results between the two Cabernets are very close: the top three being the same, though in a different order and the bottom three being in the same order. For the whites, there was a great disparity, with agreement only on the Shaw and Smith and Fontaine Gagnard. My view is that the panel was a little more objective, thinking “is this a good wine”, whilst the audience, naturally was more subjective, thinking “do I like this wine”. Both views are quite valid, but I try and tell Decanter tasters to be objective. There is no reason why consumers should be”.

Overall results from the Moscow Tasting are shown below, but something to remember, in Spurrier’s words, “One thing is certain, as it would have been for the Judgement of Paris in 1976: the same wines with the same people the following day would not have had the same results!”

Eleonora Scholes
Moscow

Eleonora Scholes is an award-winning wine journalist. She writes for numerous specialised and lifestyle titles in Russia and Ukraine. Her articles also appear in various European wine publications, including Meininger’s Wine Business International and The World of Fine Wine. She contributes to Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book with a chapter on the Old Russian Empire. Eleonora’s marketing background and knowledge of the Russian market see her undertake a variety of consulting projects. Her bilingual website is www.eleonorascholes.ru.


Judgement of Moscow 2011 Results

 

Comments:

 
 
 
 
 

Ivan Says:

If Steven spurrier present wines on such a low level than it's not professional to call it jadgement of Paris in moscov .it's just not fair to a French wines.and I will post my notes on this matter later

So let's go back to this event French white burgundy versus new world Chardonnay. I understand that Steven with his crusades against French wines it's still on but it is a professional ? Absolutely not . California Chardonnay a chili or Australian chardonnay they are so call technologically made wines it is difficult to distinguish one from another even so they my be very well made ,but what about their typicity . That's right they all taste the same  just like pepsi cola they don't have what the French call terroirs .so to compare French versus new world it's not professional it's a scam  . Thank you you can post my comments in respond to judgment of paris in Moscow

Posted @ January 31, 2012 11:10

 

Ivan Says:

One second eleonora what jadgment .how you can compare white burgundy with a new world Chardonnay if you take the best white burgundy and the best new world chardonnay the Chardonnay has not a chance they don't age 5 years from now they dead they have no balance not even a hint of complex wine . A good Montrachet or even meursault from winegrowers like Coche duty or CComte lafon will age for 20 30 years while all so call new world Chardonnay will be dead .

Posted @ January 24, 2012 16:10

 

Steven Spurrier Says:

Dear Subhash, I saw the comment but don't have a second to comment on it as I am off to France tomorrow at crack of dawn and am trying to catch up on stuff. Basically, one can only compare what is available and I thought the selection was very comparable. I think that it is a bad habit of people to comment on things that have been well-organised and have had an interesting result and yet they still seem to think that with their advice the results might have been even more interesting! Best wishes, Steven.

Posted @ January 24, 2011 14:36

 

Eleonora Says:

Hi Subhash,

If you read carefully, the objective of the event was not to fight ‘a battle of giants’, nor to have winners and losers, but to provide an even playing ground for wines from various winemaking areas to evaluate their current quality. Chardonnays and Cabernets were presented from around the globe. All wines were of premium quality, and having them in the same price range was the fairest criterion, at least from a consumer perspective.

Your personal doubts may tell you one thing, but it is totally wrong to present them as facts. I will not speak for Steven Spurrier – he said he would share his impressions on the Moscow tasting in his Decanter column – but I can attest to the range of premium wines in Russia which is wide and diverse. Steven decided in which price range the wines should be, and his choice was based on an ample offer. As the event was staged in Russia and was intended for the Russian wine lovers, it was only logical to select wines that are available in this country and are accessible to a good number of consumers. Of course, a tasting with the finest wines could be organised – but then the Russians would be accused of being too extravagant! And, by the way, they prefer to drink European wines than those of New World.

Perhaps, the organisers should have published the scores to give an idea if how individual wines performed. I don’t have the syndicated scores, but generally the spread was narrow. Eleonora

Posted @ December 07, 2011 17:40

 

Nico van Duyvenbode Says:

Just a moment please, does anyone think that the result of these top placed wines in this tasting at the Judgement of Moscow 2011 are the best wines to represent the various countries or are the best examples of these wines whether there are Chardonnay or Cabernet based wines?

I suspect that Stephen Spurrier whom I admire very much and with whom I taste every year the Bordeaux wines en primeur has had very little choice in the selection of the wines in this tasting as a number of wines represent a nice but not the best wines of their region or country of origin.

When one arranges for a comparative tasting of wines from different countries, as I , like Stephen, have done many times before, one has to allow for the fact that wines from certain regions and countries take longer to mature and present themselves at their best while many new world wines are more flattering when they are young, but not necessarily so flattering when they have had several years of aging.

A fairer comparative tasting would be to present younger 3-8 year old wines and at the same time 8-20 year old wines from the same wine regions.  Then some of the classic wines would show their true character and some of the older versions of the young floozies would show their limitations.

Given all that it is always fun to compare wines, but let's make sure that we do that on a relatively level playing field.

Cheers and enjoy your wines

Nico van Duyvenbode
Wine Consultants of Canada

Posted @ December 06, 2011 13:39

 
 
       

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