The Real Reason One Bottle Of California Wine Just Sold For Over $12k

Wines that fetch the highest prices at auction tend to be historically good vintages from benchmark properties in France. But the California Cab that just sold for $12,300 at a Beverly Hills auction, according to Food & Wine, isn't just any American bottle — it's the Stag's Leap Wine Cellars 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is one of the most legendary bottles ever produced in Napa Valley, thanks to its victory over French wines in the famed 1976 Judgment of Paris.

No, not the mythical Greek beauty pageant that started the Trojan War. This Judgment of Paris refers to a blind tasting at a wine event in Paris, France in 1976. Organized by British wine merchant Steven Spurrier, French judges chose two California wines as standouts in the red and white wine categories over celebrated French wines at the event. This unexpected outcome, Food & Wine notes, essentially "put California wine on the map." The event was later dramatized in the 2008 film "Bottle Shock," starring Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, and Bill Pullman.

Setting new standards for American wines

As Food & Wine observes, the $12,300 price tag is nearly three times the amount any wine of this vintage from Stag's Leap Wine Cellars has previously sold for, going to an anonymous buyer at a Heritage Auctions' event held on March 10 and 11 in Beverly Hills, California. Perhaps the high price isn't all that surprising, given that at this point — 46 years after the Judgment of Paris wine tasting and 49 years after the 1973 vintage — there probably aren't that many bottles of it left. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, the outlet reports, has only a "handful" remaining. Those handful will presumably bring even higher prices if auctioned at a future date.

Heritage Auctions, meanwhile, sees the high price as a reaffirmation of both the wine's greatness and the importance of California wines on the collectors market. "With this auction, the two most expensive Cabernet-based wines produced in the last 61 years are wines from California, not France, including the first vintage of Screaming Eagle that sold at Heritage Auctions last September for $14,760," Frank Martell of Heritage Auctions explained. "And, most important, with this auction we have single-handedly affirmed the Judgment of Paris — again."