Judgement Day comes to London

London Wine Fair will host an homage to the late Steven Spurrier’s landmark “Judgment of Paris”, a tasting which created shockwaves around the wine world in 1976, when the Californians trumped the French in a blind tasting. “Judgement of London” will be a significantly updated version to reflect the breadth and maturity of today’s fine wine market. Whilst the original tasting saw current vintages of Bordeaux and Burgundy pitched against their Californian counterparts, the 2024 version will see a broader inclusion of European icon wines and The Rest of the World equivalents, a more realistic benchmarking nearly half a century on.

Judgement of London will be curated by Ronan Sayburn MS, CEO of The Court of Master Sommeliers, alongside Sarah Abbott MW, MD of Swirl Wine Group and, as IWSC Committee Judge, a noted international taster. The tasting panel will comprise around 20 judges of the UK industry’s most discerning palates, including leading buyers, top sommeliers and esteemed wine writers.

The tasting will take place under exam conditions in a private room at Olympia. The wines will be tasted in pairs; one European and one from The Rest of The World, matched according to grape variety, style and texture, with the selected producers submitting a vintage drinking at its best, within a window of five to 15 years old. Eight pairs of whites will be tasted in the morning, followed by eight pairs of reds in the afternoon. All the wines will be decanted and served in Jancis Robinson X Richard Brendon glasses, and the condition of each wine will be checked beforehand by Abbott and Sayburn, while the logistics will be ably handled by Sensible Wine Services. The wines will be scored out of 10, with half marks allowed. With 20 judges, each wine will then have a final score out of 200. The scoring system allows for eight key findings, all of which will be revealed on Centre Stage the following day.

Whilst Judgement of London may not provide a definitive “who is better”, the results will give a snapshot of the world of wine almost 50 years on from 1976, and as such will be very much “of its time”. This is not so much a competition, as a direct comparison designed to show how exceptional wine can be.

Jancis Robinson OBE MW, who will be one of the judges, commented: “I’m really looking forward to being part of the tasting panel for the carefully designed Judgement of London tasting on the first day of the London Wine Fair - a fitting tribute to the late Steven Spurrier, whose London flat was so close to Olympia where we will be tasting a range of the world’s finest wines blind in order to celebrate what progress has been made since his 1976 Judgment of Paris. What better glass for this exercise than my equally top-quality glass, carefully designed to reveal the character of any wine. I’m delighted to see that today the Jancis Robinson wine glass is being hired from Sensible Wine Services for more and more professional tastings.”

Head of London Wine Fair, Hannah Tovey said: “London is the historical heartland of the international wine trade and as one of the most diverse markets today, is well-placed to host this highly anticipated Judgement of London. The tasting is set to be a celebration of the very best of wine; an appreciation of just how great fine wine can be, and we are thrilled to platform such a compelling event at the London Wine Fair.”

Sarah Abbott MW, commented: “I’m honoured and excited to be working with such a great team on this important tasting. The world of wine is rightly moving on from “old-world vs new-world”, but Stephen Spurrier’s lesson - that great wine is of the whole world – is as important and timely now as it was when that iconoclastic tasting was held nearly 50 years ago.”

Ronan Sayburn MS, commented: “The original Judgement of Paris tasting was a classic underdog triumphs over the establishment and opened the door to recognition of the emerging Californian wine industry. In the “Judgement of London” we won't be looking for a clear winner as such, more celebrating how far both Old and New World wines have come in quality and recognition since 1976.”

Judgement of London will take place at The Fair on Monday, 20th May, with the results announced on Centre Stage on Tuesday, 21st May at 16h45. Judgement of London is supported by the Academie du Vin Library, the publishing house established by Spurrier in 2019; they will kindly provide a copy of Spurrier’s memoirs for each of the tasting panel.

The London Wine Fair will take place at Olympia from 20th to 22nd May.

Register to attend LWF


Judgement of London Partners

Academie Du Vin The World of Fine Wine

Jancis Robinson x Richard Brendon  Sensible Wine Services



Don't miss out