Christmas in November...
Take the immense spirit of the Paulée de Meursault, reduce it to 50 people instead of 750, include in those 50 people several of the top winemakers in all of Burgundy, add some of the most serious Burgundy collectors on the planet and the hottest 3-star chef in France, and you have the wonderful Paulée hosted every year since 2003 by Véronique Drouhin in the ancient Drouhin cellars under the streets of Beaune.
I say it every year, because it’s true – it’s my absolute favorite day of the year. The quality of the wines, food, and people is quite simply unsurpassed. We were joined this year by the legendary Eric Rousseau of Gevrey-Chambertin, Jean-Luc Pepin from de Vogüé in Chambolle, Marie-Christine Mugneret from Vosne-Romanée, Louis-Michel Liger-Belair, Louis-Fabrice Latour, Virginie Taupenot from Morey-St. Denis, the original American in Burgundy, Alex Gambal, and the Burghound himself, Allen Meadows. In the kitchen – the amazing Arnaud Lallement of l’Assiette Champenoise in Reims. Whoa. Somehow they keep letting me come to this event, and I have no intention of stopping them!
The real beauty of the event is in the wines that are so graciously shared with the group from everyone’s cellars. Nearly every bottle in the room is a once-in-a-lifetime wine for most people, and there are some 150-200 such bottles going around the tables all day.
One of the highlights for me this year was the 1928 “Romanée La Tâche” from Chevillot, a long defunct négoce. This bottle was proof that prior to the AOC laws of 1935 that the Vosne-Romanée vineyard Les Gaudichots was indeed sold and marketed as La Tâche, as argued by DRC when they successfully sought to have Les Gaudichots included in the appellation La Tâche. La Tâche proper has for generations been a monopole of the families that owned and controlled DRC, so this bottle would have had to be from Les Gaudichots. Not only was it a great piece of history, it was a gorgeous wine, and quite lively for a bottle nearing its 90th birthday.
My favorite wine of the day was a pristine bottle of 1937 Volnay Cuvée Blondeau from the Hospices de Beaune, élévage by Camille Giroud. It was pure silk, lace, perfume, and ethereal elegance personified. It is a bottle I will not forget as long as I live.
Other wines that stood out for me included: 1952 LeRoy Romanée-St. Vivant, 1985 Hudelot-Noellat Romanée-St. Vivant, 1976 Pousse d’Or Clos de la Bousse d’Or, a 1945 Berry Bros. Gevrey-Chambertin, 1985 Berthault les Amoureuses, 1996 Rousseau Clos de Beze, 1926 LeRoy Clos Vougeot, 1966 Clair-Dau Bonnes Mares, 1966 Noellat Richebourg, and a 1964 Drouhin les Amoureuses.
On the white side some faves were: 1973 Paul Pernot Batard-Montrachet, 1993 Roulot Meursault Perrières, 1992 Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne, 1990 Drouhin Montrachet, 1982 Jadot Montrachet, 1988 Jadot Chevaliers les Demoiselles, 1991 de Vogüé Musigny Blanc, 1964 Latour Demoiselles, 1985 Drouhin Montrachet, and a 1982 Drouhin Montrachet. And those were just the highlights.
And there was some food, too. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…
If it gets any better, I really don’t want to know. As I tell daughter Pirrie often - Dad loves his work!