Santa Cruz Cab takes first in a re-visit of the 1976 Paris Tasting

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If anyone thought the 1976 Paris tasting, where several virtually unknown Napa wines bested their French counterparts was a fluke, they’ll have to contend the 2006 COPIA tasting. In May, two panels convened–one in England, and other in Napa at COPIA–to re-evaluate the original wines and see who’s stood the test of time. The results: the 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa Cruz Mountains finished in first, followed by the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars S.L.V. Cab, with a third place tie between the 1970 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Napa Valley Cab, the 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards Cab and a 1972 Clos du Val Napa Valley Cab.

Rounding out the next few spots were 1970 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, 1970 Chateau Montrose, 1970 Chateau Haut-Brion and 1971 Chateau Leoville-Las-Cases, all French wines. Who says California wines don’t age? In the original tasting, the 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet finished first, with the Ridge Cab coming in fifth.

The COPIA competition, which was more celebration to mark the 30th anniversary of the ground-breaking Paris event, has yet again solidified the high spot that Napa’s Cabernet’s hold in the world’s ranking of great wines. And, in this case, as wines that have the potential to age as well, or in this case better, than some of the most prestigious French wines.

A bit surprising, however, was the fact that the Ridge Cab was described as less big and fleshy than its counterparts. Napa has long been known for its powerful and intense fruit and high alcohol levels, which some attribute to wine critics seeking out more and more concentrated flavors as high-scorers. The Ridge win may serve as a tipping point in thought, as recent discussion among vintners and wine drinkers has begun turning toward more reserved, lower alcohol wines that pair better with food. How Napa takes the news, however, is yet to be seen.

Hailing from the lesser-known Santa Cruz Mountain region, Ridge has long been held in high-esteem for their Zinfandel and Chardonnay, as well as their Cabernet




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