The biggest problem at La Paulée de New York is keeping up and keeping track of all the great Burgundies circulating.
I wasn’t the only one at my end of the table taking notes; however, there was some question as to my stamina. Harmon and Michael Skurnik made bets on when my scribbling would cease. At 8:00 p.m., the bets were that by 9:15 and 9:45 respectively, my pen would be retired.
It’s a good thing the Skurniks had never attended a Burgundy Wine Company annual dinner. I was the official scribe at those feasts, where the late Al Hotchkin routinely put us through our paces with three dozen or more wines during the course of the evening.
But I digress.
This was the third La Paulée I had attended. Modeled after the annual harvest party in Meursault, New York sommelier Daniel Johnnes recreated the event in New York in 2000, 2003, 2005 and this year. In 2001, it was held in San Francisco.
Guests paid $1,400 for an afternoon tasting, with more than 20 winemakers from Burgundy pouring their wines, and a gala dinner prepared by chefs Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, Michel Troisgros and Olivier Muller.
Then there were the wines. Attendees are encouraged to bring treasures from their cellars. Many anted up with big bottles, not only magnums, but jeroboams and methuselahs.
It seemed like forever waiting for the first glass, then it came fast and furious. By the end of the first food course, guests were walking around and the wine was pouring freely.
I tasted more than 40 wines. The standouts for me were the Ramonet Montrachet 1986, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg 1990, Bouchard Père & Fils Corton 1961, Rousseau Chambertin 1996, DRC Richebourg 1966 (the wine that hooked me on Burgundy when I tasted it in 1991), Ponsot Clos de la Roche 1990 and Dujac Clos St.-Denis 1993.
I was still scribbling away by 10:45 pm, when Les Cadets de Bourgogne were singing “New York, New York.” Now, if I could only read my notes on those last few wines.