All About the La Paulee Festival
For the 9th year running, Daniel Johnnes and his esteemed team have managed to host what is quietly known as one of the most exclusive food and wine events in the world.
This celebration draws together a combination of the world’s finest collectors, producers, and industry professionals yet has remained somewhat of an underground event. It lacks the general publicity of most wine events but captures the attention of anyone who truly loves great Burgundy wine.
The Origins of La Paulee Festival
The modern-day Paulee of Burgundy started in 1923 with the inspiration of Jules Lafon, the grandfather of Dominique Lafon, as an end-of-harvest celebration for the local farmers and winemakers of Meursault.
From the beginning, the event has always been dedicated to having friends and family gather at the end of harvest to celebrate the newest vintage bottles, share wine, and enjoy a great meal.
As an homage, Daniel Johnnes started La Paulee of the United States with the idea of replicating the magic and energy of the Burgundy Paulee. Since 2000, he has hosted Paulee events in New York City, San Francisco, and Aspen.
What Happens at La Paulee?
Typically, exclusive lunches and dinners precede the weekend of the Paulee celebration. The grand tasting and gala dinner take place on Saturday, with plenty of before and after-parties sponsored by local restaurateurs.
Some may balk at the price of admission for the gala dinner. However, the value of the first three glasses of wine alone will eclipse any financial outlay. The quality of the wine that is shared at this event is simply unfathomable.
Some of the highlights from this year include an unbelievably rare collection of DRC wines in large format. The 1952 Romanee Conti in Jeroboam and 1971 DRC in Methuselah were particularly remarkable.
Rare magnum bottles of Krug in both 1975 and 1976 vintages showed compelling depth and freshness and the 1982 Le Montrachet from DRC was as pretty as one might expect.
The Paulee attracts the top echelon of Burgundy collectors from around the world. Consequently, regardless of the table, there are more rare and exotic Burgundy wines opened for this event than even the producers themselves can imagine.
The wines are served by 50 of the top sommeliers from across the country who pay their own way in order to work the event and enjoy the company of their colleagues. The food is skillfully crafted for 300 guests by the top restaurant chefs in the world.
The headlining chefs for the 2009 Paulee included Daniel Boulud, Michel Troisgros, Paul Liebrandt, Gregory Pugin, and Thomas Preti.
Finally, guests attending the event consist of the top producers of Burgundy, importers, distributors, collectors, and true connoisseurs of fine wine, each of whom brings wine with the intention of sharing with the table.
By the end of the evening, everyone is drinking and singing together with the help of Les Cadets de Bourgogne, a group of traditional Burgundian folk singers who make the trek from France to add a touch of old-world flair.
Everyone in attendance would agree that the 2009 La Paulee of New York was perhaps the best Paulee yet.