At its annual conference in Princeton, New Jersey, last week the American Association of Wine Economists [AAWE] organized a wine tasting called “The Judgement of Princeton” patterned after the famous 1976 “Judgement of Paris”. Of course, as anyone who has watched the film about the Paris tasting knows, California wines won out over much more famous French wines even though almost all the reviewers were French. Of course, economists Orley Ashenfelter and Richard Quandt subsequently demonstrated that statistically speaking neither California nor France won that tasting.
In a tongue-in-cheek repeat of the 1976 contest, Ashenfelter, Quandt, and other members of the AAWE organized a formal, blind tasting between the wines of New Jersey and the wines of France keeping the structure of the tasting as similar as possible as that of the original Paris contest. The nine judges included a mix of established wine critics and wine economists who are also experienced tasters.
The results. In terms of rank ordering, New Jersey “won” the Chardonnay vs. White Burgundy contest placing three Chardonnays among the top four wines. But France “won” the Bourdeaux-Style Reds vs. Bordeaux contest, similarly placing three Bordeaux wines among the top four.
However, just as with 1976 tasting, submitting the judges’ scores to a more rigorous statistical analysis proves that no one really won. There was no statistically significant difference among the scores for the white wines, excepting the superior performance of the top wine, the Joseph Drouhin 2009 Clos des Mouches. Similarly, there was no statistically significant difference among the scores for the red wines, excepting for the worst performing wine, which happens to be from New Jersey. Still considering that unknown New Jersey wines held their own statistically against the likes of the super-expensive 2004 Mouton Rothschild, 2004 Montrose, and Chateau Léoville Las-Cases wines can be considered a victory for New Jersey. At the very least, now everyone knows New Jersey makes wine.
RANK ORDERING OF WHITE WINES
Joseph Drouhin 2009 Beaune Clos des Mouches
Unionville 2010 Pheasant Hill Single Vineyard New Jersey
Heritage 2010 Chardonnay 2010 New Jersey
Silver Decoy 2010 “Black Feather” New Jersey
Domaine Leflaive 2009 Puligny-Montrachetr
Bellview 2010 Chardonnay New Jersey
Marc-Antonin Blain 2009 Bâtard Montrachet Grand Cru
Amalthea Cellars 2008 Chardonnay New Jersey
Ventimiglia 2010 Chardonnay New Jersey
Jean Latour-Labille Meursault-Charmes Premier Cru
RANK ORDERING OF RED WINES
Château Mouton-Rothschild 2004
Château Haut-Brion 2004
Heritage 2010 Estate Reserve BDX New Jersey
Château Montrose 2004
Tomasello 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Oak Reserve New Jersey
Château Léoville-Las Cases 2004
Bellview 2007 Lumière New Jersey
Silvery Decoy 2008 Cabernet Franc New Jersey
Amalthea Cellars 2008 Europa VI New Jersey
Four JG’s 2008 Cabernet Franc New Jersey