The famous 1976 Paris Tasting, the Judgment of Paris, put American wines on the map as they ranked higher than their French counterparts (much to the surprise of the French organizers of the event). A movie, “Bottle Shock”, debuted in 2008 dramatizing the tasting.
But 87 years earlier, in October 1889, there was another Paris tasting in which American wines again surpassed their French equivalents. The 1889 Paris Exposition, celebrating 100 years since the revolution, was designed to showcase the greatness of Paris alongside its European rivals. The Eiffel Tower was completed just in time for the opening of the Exposition. Within the Wine Pavilion the greatest French wineries constructed massive monuments celebrating the French wine industry. With nearly 14,000 French wines and another 5,000 from French colonies, entered in the wine competition, it was inevitable that France should win.
But, those predictions did not come true. The Grand Prize was awarded to Charles Wetmore of Cresta Blanca Winery in Livermore for his Sauvignon Blanc, about as far as you can get from the storied French culture. Three other Gold Medals were awarded to American wines, and two of these were also from Livermore, Mont Rouge Winery for a Zinfandel and S. Osterhaut for a brandy made from the Folle Blanche grape.
Of course the repercussions of this event were great, not only in France, but also in Livermore were citizens and wine lovers gathered to celebrate the win.
Recently Occasio Winery in Livermore celebrated this exciting event with a special tasting of wines honoring those wines that won in Paris. The Heritage Fume Blanc from Occasio is in celebration of the Charles Wetmore Sauvignon Blanc. A Fume Blanc is aged in oak instead of stainless steel and since Wetmore obviously would not have had stainless steel 125 years ago, it is believed that the wine would have similarities to the current Fume Blanc. The 2012 Occasio Fume Blanc has the fresh acidity and minerality of its French ancestors, while depicting a nice fruity quality.
The Occasio 2011 Anniversary Release Zinfandel from Del Arroyo Vineyard honors the Zinfandel from Mont Rouge Winery. This 2011 Zinfandel delivers the flavors of cherry and plum with licorice and cinnamon. The soft tannins lead to an integrated finish.
Thus, celebrate the historical importance of Livermore Valley wines on this 125th anniversary of the great 1889 Paris Tasting in which a few winemakers from Livermore, brought home the prize from halfway around the world.
For more information: Occasio Winery