Legendary British wine expert/former merchant Steven Spurrier has died at age 79. Also a wine educator and writer, Spurrier is best known for organizing the Paris Tasting wine competition in 1976.
Better known as the “Judgment of Paris,” the Paris Tasting brought international recognition to U.S. winemaking after two California wines beat out the French contestants. In the blind tasting, Stag’s Leap’s 1973 cabernet sauvignon was crowned the best of the reds, while Chateau Montelena won the whites with its 1973 chardonnay.
Speaking at a zoom event celebrating Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ 50th Anniversary last summer, Spurrier noted that no one was giving wine tastings in the mid-1970s. He and his American partner, Patricia Gallagher, decided to hold a tasting that pitted some of the best French wines against new, unknown California bottles.
Concerned that the French judges would “damn [the California wines] with faint praise,” Spurrier said that they decided to do a blind tasting. The blind competition created a template whereby little-known wines of quality could be compared against well-known wines of quality.
Spurrier, who also cofounded the Académie du Vin Library, among other accomplishments, died on March 9, at his home in the Bride Valley English Wine Estate, in Dorset, U.K. He is survived by his wife, Bella, and their children Christian and Kate.