An endless barrage of bottles buoyed the mood this past Saturday at La Paulée de New York, a loosely biannual Burgundy tasting organized by sommelier Daniel Johnnes. It's modeled after the annual harvest party in Meursault, recreated in New York in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007 and this year. In 2001, it was held in San Francisco.
It all began with a walk-around tasting in the afternoon. Nearly two dozen winemakers from Burgundy poured mostly 2006s, with a few ’07s and some older vintages. I tasted about half of the wines in the room and saw most of the winemakers and a group of sommeliers who had traveled from the country’s best restaurants to uncork and pour at the event.
Yet, there never seems to be enough time. Coche-Dury wines were represented, but sadly, Jean-François Coche was unable to make the trip due to his father’s passing. His wines, a Meursault, the lieux-dits Les Chevalières and Les Rougeots and premier cru Les Caillerets, all from 2006, were wines of tension and mineral, with aromas and flavors of toast, citronella and hazelnut wrapped around a core of acidity.
I tasted the wines of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair for the first time; all were marked by terrific purity, silky textures and juicy fruit. David Duband’s Clos de la Roche 2006 had intense wild berry notes backed by mineral and firm tannins. The Lavaux St.-Jacques 2006 from Denis Mortet was “DNS,” or do not spit, revealing lovely purity of fruit on a backdrop of silk.
These were only a few of the wines on hand from top producers, including Roulot, Comtes Lafon, Domaine Leflaive and others.
What was more important was the camaraderie amongst the Burgundians and their fans, wine lovers who enjoy the subtleties of great Burgundy. Furthermore, the winemakers realize that in these times of economic crisis, it is necessary to support their wines in various markets and to reach out to those who buy them. The reality of the situation is that as the sales of expensive Burgundies stop, the supply pipeline is backing up. Prices need to come down.
That was all forgotten later that evening as hundreds gathered for the gala dinner. The $1,400 ticket purchased a superb meal prepared by chefs Paul Liebrandt of Corton, Michel Troisgros of Restaurant Troisgros in Roanne, France, Grégory Pugin of Veritas and Daniel Boulud. Attendees brought their own wines, with many collectors sporting large-format bottles of top Burgundies from great vintages.
Which meant, of course, that there was plenty of wine flowing. I didn’t have the Skurnik brothers taking bets on how long I would take notes on the wines. In fact, I socialized a lot more at this Paulée than in the past, given that there was more space between tables to move around. As a result, I only took notes on about two dozen wines.
Growers Pierre Morey and Arnaud Mortet (Domaine Denis Mortet) were at our table. Morey poured some beautiful whites, including a Morey Blanc Meursault Charmes 2000, lush with citronella, pear and mineral wrapped in the creamy texture, all lively and long (92 points, non-blind). The Meursault Perrières 2001 from the domaine (Pierre Morey) was leaner and more intense, almost oily in texture, with the essence of stone and mouthwatering acidity (91 points, non-blind). Mortet offered the estate’s Clos de Vougeot 2002 from magnum. The gorgeous aromas of red and black fruit and spices lead off, followed by a complex, powerful yet fresh profile on the palate (95 points, non-blind).
My wines of the night were a Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 1952 from jeroboam, an ethereal red that evoked all the aromas of being on the Côte d’Or in autumn: forest undergrowth, decaying flowers, spices and a core of sweet fruit backed by freshness and length (98 points, non-blind). I was also impressed with the Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 1985 for its bilberry, black currant and wild berry aromas and flavors, purity, brightness and harmony (97 points, non-blind). There was also an extraordinary Maison Leroy Corton 1966 from magnum, full of sweet fruit, a touch of game, wild red berries and sous-bois that lingered nicely (96 points, non-blind).
I brought a Raveneau Chablis Montée de Tonnerre 1999, which had the spine and mineral element, but was diminished by a slight oxidation (88 points, non-blind). My Marquis d’Angerville Volnay Champans 1999 proved more satisfying, exhibiting cherry, earth and mineral notes, all nicely balanced, elegant and long (91 points, non-blind).
That was just at one of the 12 tables. The wine flowed all evening, with the sommeliers getting their workout running back and forth between empty glasses and the room stocked with the treasure trove of bottles.
The party continued at Cru, where revelers packed the restaurant and the spirit of Burgundy continued long into the New York night.
Wilson Daniels Ltd — Galway, Ireland — March 29, 2009 10:20am ET
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