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.


 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



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





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  1. Karl Storchmann says:

    I agree, all of thee tasters are highly qualified. Just two examples. Bob Hodgson has been a judge at the CA wine fair for a decade. Linda Murphy ran the wine section of the SF Chronicle and now works with Jancis Robinson (they just published a great book on American Wine). Unqualified? — Blind tasting are very different.

  2. After searching the names on the Judgement of Princeton:

    Tyler Colman =
    John Foy =
    Jean-M Cardebat = wine economics researcher in Bordeaux
    Olivier Gergaud = Wine Economics Researcher in Bordeaux
    Robert Hodgson = Wine Economics at Fieldbrook Winery wrote a research paper about how wine judging has only a 10% reliability factor
    Linda Murphy = Wine Judge for SF Chronicle
    Daniele Meulders = wine prof in economics in Belgium
    Jamal Rayyis =
    Francis Schott = restaurantuer and restaurant radio host

    What does it mean to be qualified at blind tasting wines? Blind tasting is specialized and does require training. Here we have bloggers and wine economics profs. just sayin’

    • don says:

      The names I recognize from among the list of judges are highly experienced and widely respected tasters. As I remember, the panel at the original Judgement of Paris was similarly diverse, although I doubt it included any economists. Thanks for your observation and question.

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