La Paulée de San Francisco is in the books – the U.S. take on the legendary Burgundian tradition of post-harvest bacchanalia and celebration. NYC mega-sommelier Daniel Johnnes rotates New York and SF as the site for his annual event, and this year’s version on the west coast was a rockin’ good time for all.
Over 25 of Burgundy’s top producers were on hand for four days of tasting and feasting, including four from the Scott Paul portfolio (Domaines Bonneau du Martray, Michel Lafarge, Benjamin Leroux and Marc Roy.) The main event is the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon, where every producer pours several of their current releases, and a dozen or so of SF’s top restaurants serve small plates to go with the wines.
With over 100 wines on offer, I didn’t get to them all, but I managed to hit the majority. It was the opulent and appealing 2009 vintage that was being poured, and this tasting served to reinforce my conviction that the 2009 Burgs are some of the most immediately accessible and downright likeable young Burgundies one may ever run across. Brimming with ripe fruit (but not in a New World fashion), these wines are truly built to please.
Wines that knocked me out included both the ’08 & ’09 Corton-Charlemagne from Bonneau du Martray, the ’09 Chambertin from Camille Giroud, the entire line-up of grand Crus from Domaine Ponsot (especially the Clos St. Denis), the Volnay Mitans and Clos des Chênes from Lafarge, Griotte Chambertin from Fourrier, Meursault Perrières from Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, The Gevrey Cuvée Alexandrine from Marc Roy, Clos des Mouches Blanc from Drouhin, Meursault Genevrières from Antoine Jobard, and my favourite wine of the day was the stunning Clos St. Denis from Benjamin Leroux – quite simply flat-out great.
The Grand Dinner Saturday night featured older vintages from each of the producers, as well as all the wines that everyone in attendance had generously brought to share with tablemates and friends. It truly depends on who is at your table – some folks obviously have deeper cellars than others. No matter where one is seated, great bottles of older Burgundy are flowing all night long.
I was seated with Alexandrine Roy and Rolande Masse (winemaker for the Hospices de Beaune), and across from Véronique Drouhin, Frédéric & Chantal Lafarge and Benjamin Leroux. Suffice it to say a decent amount of good wine crossed our tables over the course of the night.
Some of my faves for the evening, in no particular order: a lovely ’85 Gevrey Clos Prieur from Marc Roy, ’83 Romanée St. Vivant from Cathiard, ’99 Corton-Charlemagne from Bonneau du Martray, ’02 Montrachet in Magnum from Drouhin, ’87 Batard Montrachet from Ramonet, ’99 Richebourg from Anne Gros, ’99 Chablis Clos from Dauvissat, ’90 Clos de Bèze from Drouhin, ’93 Clos Vougeot from Robert Arnoux, and a ’73 Echezeaux from Mugneret. (The evening started with a Salmanazar (9L bottle) of 2000 Musigny from Jadot – enough for a taste for everyone in the room. Not a bad way to kick off dinner…)
In all it was a great weekend of deep Burgundy immersion and some glorious weather in San Francisco. Research for my forthcoming book on the Paulée tradition is nearing its conclusion, and a chapter on the U.S. Paulées is on the works. Kudos to Daniel Johnnes for such a well-run event, and thanks to all for sharing all the amazing bottles!