La Paulée is a Burgundian celebration held at the end of the harvest with most festivities traditionally held in Meursault. The modern day La Paulée, however, was initiated by Jules Lafon, one of Burgundy’s most respected wine growers, in 1923 when he decided to revive the traditional medieval harvest celebration. His first Paulée was held at his Meursault domaine where he invited thirty-five of his friends to a small banquet in the vat-room. Neighbouring growers decided that they wanted part of the festivities too and by 1932, the celebration vastly expanded and it was officially established as an annual event.
…Or, to put it simply, the world’s classiest BYOB party.
There’s nothing BI like more than an opportunity to pull corks on some really, really great wines, over some equally great food, company and of course we’re not opposed to promoting a little healthy vinous competition either! Thus, La Paulée de BI was born! And what a night it was.
We thought no place more fitting for a night of Burgundian fare and frivolity than a takeover at St. JOHN Bread & Wine. We feasted on (feast being the optimum word), ham hock terrine, salt Pollock, potato and boiled egg (the humble boiled egg will never be quite the same again) and a St. JOHN take on coq au vin – to name but a few courses. Think Burgundian ‘peasant’ food elevated to St. JOHN’s wacky and wonderful ways.
Fortunately there was plenty of wine to wash all those courses down. As I’m sure you can imagine, just as it would have been in medieval Burgundy, this was an opportunity to bring out the big guns and as such the room was completely inundated with big, bad Burgundies. In fact, I wish word count would allow me list every wine Itried on the evening, let alone the tens of bottles, mags, jeros etc which my glass didn’t get round to. To summarise just some of the bottles we enjoyed, some of the BI team all shared their ‘wine of the night’…
David Thomas - Meo Cros Parantoux 2002, Vosne-Romanee
In a way this wine had an impact on the rest of the evening, as it was one of the earlier wines I tasted and it was simply brilliant – still tight and closed, with aromas of dark plums and spice, hints of sweet vanilla from the oak which was not totally integrated, it was absolutely intoxicating. As it opened in the glass with a little time the complexity and depth of flavours changed and developed – perfectly balanced with present, yet delicate tannins i loved this wine and can understand the hype around the vineyard. Would love to own a few bottles to watch it change of time. (98 Pts)
Tom Chadwick - 2005 Savigny Les Beaune ‘Aux Vergelesses’, Simon Bize
Over looked and under estimated. Not many people seem to talk about Simon Bize these days as the world and their dog hunt out rarer and rarer wines and dare I say driven by ‘la mode’. This is an old school producer whose wines are meant to age and this bottle showed all the hall marks of what makes a great wine as soon as the cork was pulled. Earthy and developed mixed with inticing spices. This is just about ‘parfait’ now but I hope has just a little more to give. Keep an eye out for his wines as they will pay dividends with time in bottle. (94 Pts TC)
Giles Cooper - A pair of Grivots, both en magnum, one Reignots and one Brulees, one 1999 and one 2000
It’s hard to say how much of the difference with these two wines was terroir and how much was vintage, but I suspect that the latter was the driving force behind the pretty astonishing variation between the two wines. The Reignots 1999 was tightly wound, slender and lithe, with just enough softness to its edges to prevent it from becoming… stern. The fruit was beautifully precise, starting with bright red fruits and leading into fresh and lightly cooked plums, then into grilled meat, clove and nutmeg, all backed by a mandarin, blood-orange citrus edge which kept it well framed. Much more to come here (96pts). The Brulees 2000 was considerably more plush, ripe, sensuous, softly textured and enticing, all luscious ripe strawberry and plum backed held together by a fine spine of tannin and acidity… this was altogether more up front, at the peak of its powers one could argue. Showing off, basically. But when you’re this good, why shouldn’t you? (95pts)
Simon Eddleston - Ente’s Meursault 1er Cru ‘Goutte d'Or 2011’ from Mag…
One of just 150 mags made, this was just stunning on the nose… Would have mistaken it for Coche, if had blind! Gorgeously buoyant smoke and toasted hazelnut notes, with white flowers, juicy stone fruit, and focussing minerality and citrus lift. Building intensity all the time in the glass. Effortlessly balanced and bridling with energy from entry to gloriously elegant finish. Beautiful, beautiful wine.
Ellie Roberts - Felton Road Pinot Noir, Block 5, 2007
OK it’s not from Burgundy, but given that we encouraged ALL Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it was rather a breath of fresh air to drink this superb bottle from New Zealand. Felton Road, too, is living proof that really great Pinot doesn’t just come from Burgundy… The 2007 Block 5 Pinot is Burgundian on the nose but with all the elegance on the palate that great Central Otago Pinot has in abundance. Lovely yet complex red fruits complement plenty of earthiness and a ridiculously long finish. Another wine which keeps me confidently waving that NZ wine flag!
It really was the classiest of BYOB affairs with bottles being shared from opposite ends of the room and a buzz which lasted long beyond the cheese course. We had such a good time, in fact, that we’re already planning our next Paulée, this time focussing on the Rhône (name TBC) So watch this space!