I just finished reading the book Judgment of Paris by George Taber, which is primarily a recounting of the now-legendary 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting where California Cabernets and Chardonnays shockingly upset top French Bordeaux and Burgundies in a blind tasting evaluated by renowned French judges, but which also tangentially describes the birth and rapid growth of the California wine industry. The truly amazing thing about the J of P tasting wasn’t that the California wines upset the French; it was that the California wineries represented in the competition didn’t even exist a decade earlier. Many of them entered their first, second or third vintages EVER in a tasting contest against historic French bottlings that dated back centuries, which in the world of wine should have been a recipe for embarrassment. I now think about this every time I open a Cali Cab or Chard because, as a recent disciple of wine, I’ve only ever known California as a world vinous powerhouse; it’s remarkable to think that 40 years ago it would have been laughable to describe it that way.
To coincide with my finishing the book, I felt it only appropriate to open a California wine in commemoration, and the Fog Crest has been a bottle I’ve been very interested in trying, largely because the producer brings in ultra-famous Cali winemaker David Ramey as a consultant to help craft its Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Fog Crest is based out of the Russian River Valley sub-region of Sonoma County, an area known for having a notably cooler climate than the surrounding area, helped in part by cold morning fogs (hence the winery name). These climatic conditions make RRV an ideal spot for growing grapes like Chardonnay that show their best in cooler sites. My favourite thing about this wine has to be its thematically-accurate, dry-ice-induced foggy promo pic from its website (see above left), the set up for which almost inevitably involved some marketing guru saying: ”See, FOG Crest? Get it?” (I get it.) Read the rest of this entry »