Judgment of Paris

  • by George M. Taber
  • Narrated by Sean Runnette
  • 14 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History houses, amid its illustrious artifacts, two bottles of wine: a 1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and a 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. These are the wines that won at the now-famous Paris Tasting in 1976, where a panel of top French wine experts compared some of France's most famous wines with a new generation of California wines. Little did they know the wine industry would be completely transformed as a result, sparking a golden age for viticulture that extends beyond France's hallowed borders to Australia, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, and across the globe.
Then Paris correspondent for Time magazine, George M. Taber recounts this seminal contest and its far-reaching effects, focusing on the three gifted unknowns behind the winning wines: a college lecturer, a real estate lawyer, and a Yugoslavian immigrant. At a time when California was best known for cheap jug wine, these pioneers used radical new techniques alongside time-honored winemaking traditions to craft premium American wines that could stand up to France's finest. With unique access to the main players and a contagious passion for his subject, Taber renders this historic event and its tremendous aftershocks in captivating prose, bringing to life an eclectic cast and magnificent settings. For lovers of wine and anyone who enjoys a story of the entrepreneurial spirit of the new world conquering the old, this is an illuminating and deeply satisfying tale.


What the Critics Say

"An intoxicating indulgence for Sideways fans, and an education for would-be wine sophisticates." (Kirkus)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Only for the wine-obsessed

Are you are vineyard owner? Wine seller? Wine enthusiast? Wine snob? Francophile with alcoholic tendencies? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might possibly find this book interesting. Otherwise, probably not.

I know that this was an epic event in the wine industry and heralded the rise of California wines ... and ultimately, encouraged a flowering of an international wine industry.... but for me, a non-drinker and never much of a wine fancier at any time in my life, this was dull stuff.

The narrator sounded sort of sleepy most of the time, occasionally waking up and actually doing more than droning along. The material isn't thrilling and the narrator doesn't improve it.

So, if you are really interested in this subject, by all means enjoy and have a glass of wine while you are at it. Otherwise, take a pass.
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- History

Narrator didn't do his homework.

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The narrator mispronounced several of the names, to the point of distraction. He pronounced St. Helena, CA as if it were Helena, MT (a town that is mentioned at least 100 times throughout the book). To someone who lives in the wine country, that's anathema. His research needed to be much more thorough, and now I am wondering how many other words he has mispronounced. Gwurztraminer was another one.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Sean Runnette?

Someone who has a better handle on French language pronunciation, and does better research on English pronunciation.

Did Judgment of Paris inspire you to do anything?

It's a fantastic event in California's wine history and I am grateful Taber took the interest to be there and then to chronicle it with such detail and background.

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- L.W.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-30-2011
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio