AAWE, Economics Dept, New York University, 19 W 4th St, 6Fl., New York NY 10012aawe@wine-economics.org

The Judgment of Princeton

Post 537 of 543

At its Annual Conference in Princeton, the American Association of Wine Economists (www.wine-economics.org) organized a wine tasting called “The Judgment of Princeton.” It was modeled after the 1976 “
Judgment of Paris.” In 1976, British wine merchant Steve Spurrier organized two blind tastings with 9 French wine judges who were associated with the wine industry in various ways (wine journalists, critics, sommeliers, merchants or winemakers).  In the first flight, the judges rated 10 white wines, 6 from Napa and 4 from Burgundy. In the second flight, the judges rated 10 reds, 6 from Napa and 4 from Bordeaux, France. In both tastings a wine from Napa, a then relatively unknown wine region, was declared the winner. George Taber of TIME magazine, the only attending journalist, reported the results to the world causing a big surprise in France, and helping to put Napa wines on the global wine map.

At the Princeton tasting, led by George Taber, 9 wine judges from France, Belgium and the U.S. tasted French against New Jersey wines. The French wines selected were from the same producers as in 1976 including names such as Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Haut Brion, priced up to $650/bottle. New Jersey wines for the competition were submitted to an informal panel of judges, who then selected the wines for the competition. These judges were not eligible to taste wines at the final competition The results were similarly surprising. Although, the winner in each category was a French wine (Clos de Mouches for the whites and Mouton-Rothschild for the reds) NJ wines are at eye level. Three of the top four whites were from New Jersey. The best NJ red was ranked place 3. An amazing result given that the prices for NJ average at only 5% of the top French wines.

A statistical evaluation of the tasting, conducted by Princeton Professor Richard Quandt, further shows that the rank order of the wines was mostly insignificant. That is, if the wine judges repeated the tasting, the results would most likely be different. From a statistically viewpoint, most wines were undistinguishable. Only the best white and the lowest ranked red were significantly different from the others wines.

In Paris, after the identity of the wines was revealed, Odette Kahn, editor of La Revue Du Vin De France, demanded her score card back. Apparently, she was not happy with having rated American wines number one and two.

At the Princeton blind tasting, both French judges preferred NJ red wines over their counterparts from Bordeaux. After disclosing the wines’ identity the French judges were surprised but did not complain.

All results and the statistical analysis can be found here:

Judgment of Princeton

Results Whites

1 Clos des Mouches Drouhin 2009 FRA
2 Unionville Pheasant Hill Single Vineyard 2010 USA
3 Heritage Chardonnay 2010 USA
4 Silver Decoy “Black  Feather” 2010 USA
5 Puligny Montrachet Domaine Leflaive 2009 FRA
Tied 6 Bellview Chardonnay 2010 USA
Tied 6 Bâtard Montrachet Marc-Antonin Blain 2009 FRA
8 Amalthea Chardonnay 2008 USA
9 Ventimiglia Chardonnay 2010 USA
10 Meursault-Charmes Jean Latour-Labille2008 FRA

Results Reds

1 Ch. Mouton Rothschild 2004 FRA
2 Ch. Haut Brion 2004 FRA
3 Heritage Estate  BDX 2010 USA
4 Ch. Montrose 2004 FRA
5 Tomasello Oak Reserve 2007 USA
6 Ch. Leoville Las Cases 2004 FRA
7 Bellview Lumiere 2010 USA
8 Silver Decoy Cab. Franc 2008 USA
9 Amalthea Europa VI 2008 USA
10 Four JG’s Cab Franc 2008 USA


Wine Judges:

Jean–Marie Cardebat, Professor of Economics, Université de Bordeaux
Tyler Colman, DrVino.com
John Foy, Wine Columnist The Star Ledger; www.thewineodyssey.com
Olivier Gergaud, Professor of Economics, BEM Bordeaux Management School
Robert Hodgson, Fieldbrook Winery, California
Linda Murphy, co-author of American Wine; Decanter
Danièle Meulders, Professor of Economics, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Jamal Rayyis, Gilbert & Gaillard Wine Magazine
Francis Schott, Stage Left Restaurant, New Brunswick; RestaurantGuysRadio.com

Ex officio:
Mark Censits, CoolVines Wine & Spirits
George Taber, Block Island, RI

This article was written by Karl Storchmann