Prior to the results being announced, Dr Orley Ashenfelter, Joseph Douglas Green Professor of Economics at Princeton University, and AAWE President, covered the ground rules for the competition. According to Dr. Ashenfelter, the French wines were all purchased. For the NJ wines, producers who wanted to participate in the competition were asked to provide one red and one white wine and these (100 wines from 50 wineries) were all gathered in Princeton. The whites were required to be Chardonnay and the reds Bordeaux varietals. The wines had to be made from grapes grown wholly in NJ and the offering winery had to be bonded in the state.
Below is Dr. Karl Storchmann’s (Clinical Professor of Economics at NYU and AAWE Vice President) recap of the tasting. This recap is used with his express permission.
At its Annual Conference in Princeton, the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) 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 a blind wine tasting with 9 French 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 four from Burgundy. In the second flight the judges rated 10 reds, 6 from Napa and four from Burgundy. In both tastings, a wine from Napa, then a relatively unknown wine region, was declared the winner. George Taber of TIME magazine, the only attending journalist, reported the results to the world. The results caused considerable surprise in France and the USA and helped to put Napa wines on the global wine map.
|Data Dr. Storchmann's; framework provided by author|
The judges for this event were:
Jean-Marie Cardebat, Professor of Economics, University of Bordeaux
Tyler Coleman, DrVino.com
John Foy, Wine Columnist, The Star Ledger
Olivier Gergaud, Professor of Economics, BEM Bordeaux Management School
Robert Hodgson, Fieldbrook Winery
Linda Murphy, Decanter
Daniel Meulders, Professor of Economics, Universite Libre de Bruxelles
Jamal Rayyis, Gilbert & Gaillard Wine Magazine
Francis Schott, Stage Left Restaurant, New Brunswick, NJ.
So what did I think about the tasting? First, I am always amused when new world wines -- riper fruit, more approachable wines -- are pitted against relatively young Bordeaux wines -- later bloomers. Second, I had not tasted any NJ wines prior to the conference but tasted a number of the wines at the conference reception and at lunch on the first full day. With the exception of an unoaked Chardonnay, I had not been too impressed. On the post-conference tour we visited two wineries and tasted the wares of three producers. On that visit I had the pleasure of speaking to the owners, and tasting the wines, of Amalthea Cellars and Heritage Estates. I was heartened by both experiences. Third, in the wrapup, George Taber spoke about holding the tasting within the parameters established by Steve Spurrier in his Paris tasting. One of the diferences in the two tastings that I noted was the number of academics on the judging panel in the Princeton tasting when compared to the Paris tasting (There is probably no significance associated with this fact but I thought I would mention it anyway.).
What will be the impact on NJ wines going forward?. The tasting no doubt gives a moral boost to the industry as current and future owners and investors see vindication of their efforts and passion. The industry will also, no doubt, seek to gain marketing leverage from the event. As a matter of fact, by the time we visited the wineries on Sunday, they already had flyers showing how the wines that they were pouring had done in the tasting. Such flyers, and other leveraging of the tasting, will undoubtedly increase the sales of NJ wines at the "cellar door" and could potentially serve to attract new market entrants. The results may also serve to bring more press- and critic-attention to Garden State wines and cause shoppers to take a second look at a NJ wine label if they encounter such in a retail establishment or restaurant.
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