What is left for France? Its economy is struggling, its government is being torn apart from within. What does it have left? Wine, of course! And for France, there was just one question of supremacy left to settle: is the best nectar in the world a Bordeaux, a Burgundy or a Guigal côte rôtie?
This domination was clearly shaken thirty years ago, during a tasting that has gone down in history as the "Judgment of Paris." During a Bordeaux-California match, the wines of the New World won. Scornful, the Bordelais [winemakers from Bordeaux] mocked the results. And the response was quick. Along the lines of "Sir, a great Bordeaux has passed the test of time. An American cabernet may be flattering, but will fade quickly."
Thirty years later to the day, with the same wines, of the same vintage, a rematch. And with the same result: the first five (of ten) are Californian. For the French, who were hoping for revenge, it's Waterloo.
So, that's it? The best wines in the world are American ? Not so fast. Would anyone have the ludicrous idea of staging a match between Mozart and Beethoven, between Monet and Van Gogh, between Kundera and Philip Roth? A great wine is neither the selection of a beauty queen or an inter-city match between France and the United States. At this level, it's also art.
Put more simply, choosing the world's most beautiful bottle of wine is a personal passion. It is that which accompanies one during personal meditations, in a tender moment, at a party with friends. Sometimes it might be a Cheval Blanc or a Ridge Monte Bello (the current winner). But most often it will be a very mature châteauneuf, an amarone, or even, why not … a subtle and aged dézaley.
It's simply a matter of taste.
<p>Edited by Louis Standish</p>