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Posted by on Jun 5, 2013 in News | No Comments

A Legendary Vineyard: Source of Chardonnay That Helped Win Judgment of Paris is Still Thriving

Helen-in-Paris-Tasting-BlockMost American wine lovers are familiar with the story of the 1976 Judgment of Paris in which two Napa Valley wineries won top placement in a blind-tasting of California wines verses famous French wines. However, what few people know is that the majority of the grapes that went into the top scoring chardonnay came from Sonoma County.

The two Napa Valley wineries were Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena. Stag’s Leap took top place in the red wine tasting with their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon that was made from grapes in their Stag’s Leap Vineyard. Chateau Montelena, which achieved the top white wine award, beating out wines from Puligny-Montrachet, Mersault Charmes and Batard-Montrachet, purchased 85% of its grapes from Sonoma County. Of these, large percentages were from the Bacigalupi Vineyard in the Russian River AVA. Planted in 1964, the nearly 50 year old vines stand 8 feet tall on huge shaggy trunks and still produce an impressive 1 to 2 tons of grapes a year.

How Bacigalupi Chardonnay Grapes Arrived in Paris

“We call it the Paris Tasting Block,” says 87 year old Helen Bacigalupi, co-owner with her husband Charles, of more than 90 acres of Russian River grapes in Sonoma County. “We still have the original 4 acres of chardonnay that Mike Grgich, the winemaker, selected to go into the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, but it is producing less and less, and some of the vines have died.”
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