Top sommeliers have joined a tasting panel that pitched a selection of wines from California against those of President of the United States, Donald Trump, who owns a winery in Virginia. The ‘Judgement of Our Times’ tasting was based – tongue in cheek – on the infamous Judgement of Paris tasting, organised by Steven Spurrier in 1976, which pitted California against France.
Romain Bourger, head sommelier at The Vineyard Hotel, and Mike Meyers, head sommelier at Lucknam Park, took part in the blind tasting, organised by wine writer Douglas Blyde for the Evening Standard. The tasting was held in March at The Vineyard Hotel near Newbury, which is known for its extensive Californian wine list.
Wines were tasted in pairs according to style and price point. ‘Tasting Trump wines was a first for The Vineyard team and was certainly eye-opening,’ commented James Hocking, wine director at The Vineyard Cellars and The Vineyard Hotel, and also a regular judge for Imbibe’s Sommelier Wine Awards.
Hocking explained that the tasting threw up some curve balls. ‘Trump’s Cru Fortified Chardonnay is somewhat unusually produced; rather than traditional fermentation, the Chardonnay juice is blended with grape brandy, and then aged in bourbon barrels. The winery describes it as “truly all-American”,’ he added.
While other pairings were more straightforward, the results (which are published in today’s ES Magazine) saw Californian wines triumph over Trump’s equivalents. ‘The outcome was overwhelmingly in favour of California, with judges voting for the Californian wine in each pair, with an overall result of 7-0,’ revealed Hocking.
Other members of the Judgement of Our Time panel included: Paul Michael, The Vineyard Hotel & Peter Michael Winery; Richard Siddle, editor of The Buyer; Juel Mahoney of Wine Woman and Song; and Alastair Viner, head buyer at Hedonism.
The Trump Winery is located in the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia and is the largest vineyard in the state. It is managed by Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son. Trump Wines are not yet available in Europe. See below for a full list of wines tasted.
Trump Winery Sparkling Blanc de Blancs 2010, Charlottesville, Virginia, £39.60
Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs 2013, Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, £28.24
Donelan Family Wines, Venus 2014, Sonoma County, California, £44.80
Trump Viognier 2015, Charlottesville, Virginia, £28.05
Benovia Winery La Pommeraie Chardonnay 2013, Russian River Valley, California, £41.07
Trump Winery Cru Fortified Chardonnay NV, Charlottesville, Virginia, £39.60
Trump Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Charlottesville, Virginia, £28.05
Ferrari-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, £25.03
Peter Michael Winery L’Esprit des Pavots 2013, Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California, £69.60
Trump Winery New World Reserve 2014, Charlottesville, Virginia, £67.65