The La Paulee is a celebration of Burgundy, it was first established in New York in 2000 by the famed Daniel Johnnes as homage to the festivals of Burgundy’s fabled Meursault which themselves have been celebrated since 1923 in modern times. The La Paulee has included recently San Francisco and Aspen to it’s lineup, both places quickly rising to the occasion and putting on amazing Burgundy events. The tradition is to put on lavish wine dinners with over the top combinations of food and of course wine, with expansive vertical collections of famous producers, the great vintages and the latest releases. In San Francisco, restaurants, sommeliers and retailers all put on mind blowing tastings with winemakers, importers and celebrated authors, critics and wine professionals pouring a vast array of fine Burgundies. This is the time to catch the magic of this fabled region, there is a staggering collection of tasting to attend, for the novice and serious collector alike, be sure to check out the list of events at the La Paulee website, these will sell out, in fact many have already so be sure of availability and get your RSVPs in asap. (or make sure you attend next time!)
San Francisco Wine Trading Company’s Pascal Marchand Tasting
Pouring along side Mark Fincham of Maison Marchand-Tawse and Aline Thiebaut the US importer of Marchand was a great experience and a thirsty crowd was appeased with a selection of fantastic 2011 wines from the Canadian born Pascal Marchand, former winemaker at the famous Comte Armand Pommard domaine. With the backing of Tawse, Marchand is a fast rising star in the Cote d’ Or and they have recently added estate holdings in prime locations with the purchase of longtime old school favorite Domaine Maume with top pacels in Chambertin, Gevery as well as their longtime leases in Nuits-St.-Georges, Pommand and Morey-Saint-Denis, these guys mean business and are the real deal. The 2009 and 2010 wines were stunning, but I must say these 2011 Burgundies across the board showed incredibly well and in some cases even better. Be sure to look for these wines, these are impressive and small lot wines, mostly from biodynamic or all organic low yield sites. Some of the smash hits in the tasting were the fabulous 2011 Meursault, 2011 Nuits-St.-Georges, 2011 Corton, 2010 Mazy-Chambertin (aka Mazis-Chambertin) and the wildly seductive and sexy Morey-St.-Denis Rue de Vergy, the Meursault was classic, brooding with hazelnut, lemon and crushed stones, majestic in style and the reds were equally as intriguing with my fags being the Beaune Premier Cru and that gorgeous Rue de Vergy Morey-Saint-Denis.
San Francisco Wine Trading Company’s Chablis Tasting Flight
A wet and dreary day could stop a huge gathering of Chablis fans, and I poured Chablis almost until my arms ached and feet gave out! Thanks to all those that came out to taste, it was a super fun and educational tasting of mineral laced stony Chardonnay, and one delightful Sauvignon Blanc thrown in as an extra since it was made by a Chablis producers from vines just down the road in Saint-Bris. Chablis is a special place, sitting on ancient soils in the northern most part of Burgundy, this famous region makes for a unique and vastly differing styles with a common terroir link, these are steely and mineral driven wines of freshness and charm. I poured some 2012, 2011 and a few 2010 vintages from Petite Chablis to Grand Cru with a highly prized Raveneau Monte de Tonnerre Premier Cru in the mix. All the wines showed well and each had their fans including the La Chablisienne Saint Bris that for about $10 was delightful and zesty, but of course most people came to try the rare and exotic Raveneau which did not disappoint, though some preferred the William Fevre Les Preuses Grand Cru which was refined, woody and round, plus the Romain Collet 2010 Premier Cru Montmains, maybe the dark house in the lineup, it showed the nature of the Fevre and the vibrancy of the Raveneau with lime tones and hints of smoky vanilla, it was still young. These Chablis were tight, firm and brisk in the bottle, which made decanting essential and was a huge reminder to myself and those present that it is always important to decant young wines, though of course mature wines need TLC and delicate/gentile handling.
I love fine Chablis, and I’m a huge fan of Bernard Raveneau and his wines, so the experience of his Montee de Tonnerre, my absolute favorite was epic!
Grapelive La Paulee Wines
2010 Domaine du Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Nuits-St.-Georges Clos des Grandes Vignes, Vielles Vignes, Premier Cru Red Burgundy, France.
The Premier Cru Clos des Grandes Vignes in Burgundy’s famed Nuits-St.-Georges is all biodynamic and is a pure monopole site, these Clos vineyards seem to be historic 19th century creations, these walled areas make up some of the best Pinot Noir in the region with some of the oldest vines in Burgundy it’s self, some well over a hundred years old. Chateau du Puligny-Montrachet under Etienne de Montille since 2002 has made Premier Cru from Clos des Grandes Vignes from 2006 to 2012 and has since sold the vineyard in a restructuring of their holdings, which sadly became necessary when Etienne needed financing to purchase the Domaine. His efforts here at Clos des Grandes Vignes are brilliant, and his fantastic 2010 is sublime and one of the best values in top Burgundy I’ve seen from the hailed 2010 vintage with wonderful density, vigor and length, this truly is provocative and stylish Pinot Noir. This old vine cuvee was completely whole cluster and shows lively steamy spices, heightened aromatics and a majestic play of ripe flavors and earthy savory counterpoints, firm tannins, tangy acidity and a silky texture that coats the palate leaving a detailed and long finish. The nose starts with briar, bramble and red currants, a touch of smoke, truffle and pepper leading to a racy mouth of cherry, black raspberry and plum fruits along with minty herbs, anise and pomegranate while mineral, loam, saline and baking spices add complexity. After tasting the latest lineup of Domaine Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet with Etienne, I have no doubt the future is looking bright for this label, I’ve always enjoyed these wines, but this set are a major step up, especially his 2011 whites with a stunning purity and excitement, the St. Aubin and Pulignys really shined, but I could not resist this lovely Nuits-St.-Georges Clos des Grandes Vignes it is simply gorgeous Burgundy and filled with magic, emotion and charm, drink from 2016-2025.
($70 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine du Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Pommard AC, Red Burgundy, France. The 2010 and 2011 wines by Etienne de Montille and his Domaine du Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet estate are fantastic and remarkable values in the face of rising prices from Burgundy, and his 2010 reds are exceptional, especially this provocative and alluring Pommard. Etienne and his sister Alix, sine taking over from their famous father Hubert de Montille have both made quite a name for themselves and are both regarded as fine and gifted winemakers with Alix making the Domaine’s whites and Etienne making the family’s reds, but at Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet, Etienne makes all the wines and has done for ages, though since taking over the Domaine du Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet there has been talk that Alix will now join the team there as well. I was thrilled to taste through the Chateau de Puligny lineup with Etienne just prior to the La Paulee 2014 San Francisco, and I’ve always been a fan of this label. The 2010 Pommard is vigorously exciting, elegantly crafted and lengthy with intriguing depth, flavor and focus, this is wonderful Cote de Beaune Pinot Noir that shows real class and terroir. The nose is lively with spiced red fruits, herbs and dried flowers leading to a medium palate of delicate red raspberry, plum, tangy currant and morello cherry fruits with mineral, chalky stones, briar, earthy elements, cured meat, peppery spice, lavender/anise, saline and cinnamon/vanilla notes. There is refined, but firm tannins, brisk acidity and with air the wine gains density and richness, there is a dynamic force driving this wine, though it does fill out and deliver soft lush texture with time in the glass, this is a wine that might need another 3-5 years to really show it’s potential, but it is lovely now too, drink from 2016-2022. ($56 Est.) 93-94 Points, grapelive
2011 Domaine du Château de Puligny-Montrachet, Puligy-Montrachet “Folatieres” Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
A masterclass in style, grace and expression, this is pure Puligny at it’s finest, made by Etienne de Montille of Domaine de Montille and the owner winemaker at his Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet. Tasted with Etienne, just prior to San Francisco’s 2014 La Paulee Burgundy fest, the Folatieres is a marvelous Puligny with loads of mineral, wet stones, smoke and hazelnut rising from the glass leading to lemon tart, apple and pear fruits with clarified cream, steely elements and good density. Wonderful focus and harmony throughout, almost without flaw, this is fantastic Chardonnay from a Domaine that is punching way above it’s price class, Etienne since taking over Domaine du Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet is making some of his best wines ever here, and he explained to me that 2011 might just be better than 2010 for whites and feels they are real steals in the market place, and after tasting through his wines might just agree, I’m finding these 2011’s generous and beautifully detailed, and while I am loving the 2010 reds more at this stage, even the 2011 reds are showing well, much better than early reports, but again these 2011 whites are suburb and I highly recommend them. This is a Domaine to start collecting if you are a Burgundy drinker! Don’t miss this glorious Premier Cru Puligny-Montrachet Folatieres, drink 2015-2020.
($109 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2011 Pascal Marchand, Morey-Saint-Denis, Rue de Vergy, Red Burgundy, France.
The Marchand-Tawse label of Pascal Marchand is a winery to watch and start collecting if you are a rabid Burgundy lover, these are stylish, richly favored and intriguing wines that deeply show a sense of place as well as being well crafted and balanced. Marchand’s 2011 offerings are highly successful and dynamic, these are wonderful drinkers, especially his marvelous Morey-Saint-Denis selections, of which I am partial to. The 2011 Rue de Vergy is beautiful, textured and seamless with hints of violets, earthy loam, spice and an array of red and blue fruit, and while the 2009 and 2010 wines were stunning, this 2011 is showing remarkably well and looks set to be right on par. The nose starts with floral and wild herb notes along with mineral and touches of game and cassis leading to a palate of cherry, plum and black raspberry fruit, cool stones, rose petal tea, truffle and anise. This is suburb and focused Pinot Noir that has good vivid flavors, character and juicy acidity, it shows silky tannins and leaves a nice long finish with lingering strawberry, violets and very subtle wood. Drink from 2014 to 2020, this is a Burgundy lovers discovery for short to mid term enjoyment, no need to hide these beauties away for ages.
($65 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive
2011 Domaine Francois Raveneau, Chablis, Montee de Tonnerre, Premier Cru, White Burgundy, France.
Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre is my favorite Chablis, though I must say if I could afford Les Clos it might be a little higher in my favorite list, but honestly I adore Montee de Tonnerre and love it’s vigor, intensity and unique charms. I consider myself very lucky indeed to have experience with Raveneau’s Montee de Tonnerre, going back more than a few vintages and for me this wine is everything you could ask or want from a great Chablis it shows vibrancy, terroir and complexity with exotic notes and lots of steely minerality. As a part of a La Paulee San Francisco tasting I had a chance to pour and show this marvelous wine, and while it is not for everyone, it is truly one of the world’s most exciting white wines, I decanted two bottles and showed one without decanting, the difference was amazing, note to self, decant, decant, decant! The 2011 vintage is showing much better in bottle than some critical voices have suggested and after an hour of decanting the Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre was explosively stunning and hitting on all cylinders, this is fantastic Chardonnay with lively flavors and beautiful details. The nose is still shy with hints of citrus flower, white tea, briny/seaweed, chalk and grapefruit, but the palate is vocal with a choir of layers music including green apple, lime, kiwi and vivid lemon along with marmalade notes, wet river stones, saline, tangy citrus pip and soft leesy tones. With air and a slight warming in the glass the texture turns creamy and a hint of vanilla comes forth, but you never lose the acidity and focus, this is wondrous and classic Chablis and a pure heavenly joy to behold, Drink from 2016 to 2023, worth every penny on the right occasion.
($160 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2011 Maison Marchand-Tawse, Morey-Saint-Denis, Les Faconnieres Premier Cru, Red Burgundy, France.
Only 2 barrels of this seductive and gorgeous Morey-Saint-Denis were made in this vintage by the talented hands of Pascal Marchand, so I highly recommend getting your hands on some, it is ultra lovely and a stylish Burgundy of quality and class. The Les Faconnieres Premier Cru sits just across the road between the two Grand Crus of Clos Saint-Denis and Clos de la Roche sandwiched by Les Millandes Premier Cru and Les Charieres, and not far from Clos des Ormes, this is great terroir and it shows in this beautiful wine. I loved the 2010 version, but considering the vintage, this 2011 might even be better and is certainly a greater feat, I was blown away, it is one of the finest Premier Crus I’ve sampled to date. Marchand’s 2011 Les Faconnieres starts with heightened floral aromas with a bowquet of violets and rose petals with hints of tea leaves, forrest floor and shaved fennel to go with red fruits and mineral. The palate is move expansive that you’d think with richness, texture and luxurious mouth feel, this is dreamy Cotes de nuits with red currants, black cherry, plum and wild strawberry fruits, tangy spice, saline and wet chalk, plus hints of loamy earth, game and new leather add to the details. A touch of blackberry, licorice and sweet char linger on the delicious finish, again I suggest locating some of this entertaining Burgundy, drink from 2015 to 2021, very very tasty stuff.
($80 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
2010 Domaine Antoine Jobard, Meursault-Poruzots, Premier Cru White Burgundy, France.
This is a seriously chiseled Meursault, unbelievably firm and lean with sizzling acidity and powerful, just as Jobard wanted and dreamed of I’m sure. This golden nectar will surly need a decade to unfold all of it’s charm and unleash it’s potential, but that all being said and true, this fine and masterful Chardonnay is glorious with exceptional purity, focus, drive and terroir, this could be only Meursault Poruzots and certainly this vintage is completely on show, with Jobard’s signature style. This mineral laced beauty maybe the Ice Queen at the moment, but the extract, detail and length are all there, I love the energy and force on display even now, it shows wet stones, lemon, pear and subtle fig along with matchstick, hazelnuts and clove spice. Even decanting hardly got this tight and vivid Meursault to open, this is dynamic wine and as much as I begged it, it will require the ultimate in patience, though the rewards will be stunning, no question, everything is there like a treasure just out of reach for now. A few years back, I was able to sample a selection of Jobard wines with 10-12 years of age on them, and they were glorious and still very vibrant and youthful, so be sure to lock these puppies away, and to those that do, well, lucky you, these will be wonderful surprises in time, I can only imagine, and be sure to have a Lobster around! Drink from 2018 to 2024, for those that adore classic white Burgs, this wine would be a great investment in future pleasures.
($120 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive
2012 Domaine Savary, Chablis, Vieilles Vignes Selection, France.
A racy brisk Chablis with dynamic character, the Savary Old Vine is a terrific and classic wine that offers a stunning value. Olivier Savary is a rising talent in Chablis and his wines are secretly called baby Raveneaus, highlighting the quality and style his wines show. The 2012 Savary Vieilles Vignes is vibrant and fresh with pure Chardonnay varietal charms, lime, lemon and green granny smith apples with hints of steely mineral, loads of chalky limestone and wet river stones. This is a white Burgundy lover’s dream, this is very vivid and elegant wine, do not miss.
I’ve been a fan since the 2007 vintage, and this wine year after year has been consistently one of my favorite Chardonnays, especially for the price, there are not too many wines that compare, drink now through 2020.
($28 Est.) 92+ Points, grapelive
2011 Philippe Pacalet, Gevrey-Chambertin, Bel-Air Premier Cru, Red Burgundy, France.
Philippe Pacalet’s new 2011 wines are a revelation and take his label to the next level, from a difficult vintage they are stylish, richly flavored and possess that Burgundy magic, the undefinable element that becomes the holy grail of all wine critics and wine lovers, it is that unexplainable joy and or emotional response that certain Burgundy (Pinot Noir as well) can give that just makes all the stars align and haunting music play when you experience it. Whatever the X factor is, Pacalet’s wines have it, especially his Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Crus, like this fantastic Bel-Air, which is already drinking with lovely fruit, poise and length. The 2011 Pacalet Gevrey-Chambertin Bel-Air Premier Cru is deeply layered with a nice floral perfume and a complex character, it comes from broken rocks, a touch of clay and a root of limestone soils, it was made from a tiny yield of grapes, which explains the concentration and intensity, all the vines are organic and only native yeasts are used, everything was 100% whole cluster (fermented with stems) and aged on it’s lees for 16 months in cask without racking, this is natural and gentle artisan winemaking, and the results are stunning. The nose starts with rose petals, wild flowers, hints of game, spice, kirsch and a mix of red fruits, leading to a full mouth of black cherry, plum and mountain berries along with pepper, chalky stones, mineral and truffle notes. With air a tangy raspberry, sandalwood and briar side come through, hints of fine tannin coat the palate plus a juicy red peach, guava and lavender oil. This a firm and salty wine still, but very expressive and captivating even at this young stage, bravo to Pacalet, this is great stuff, drink over the coming decade.
($110-125 Est.) 94+ Points, grapelive
2011 Philippe Pacalet, Puligny-Montrachet, White Burgundy, France.
The gorgeous and rich 2011 Philippe Pacalet Puligny is a textured and fresh Chardonnay of wonderful class and detail. Pacalet sources small yielding organic grapes from select plots, employs gentle natural native yeast fermentation and ages on the lees in neutral cask making a stylish and generous wine that showcases terroir, vivid transparency and heightened flavors. Pacalet’s natural winemaking might work best in his glorious white wines, while he gets most attention for his reds, these whites are stunning wines, both his Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet shine brightly and standout for their lovely texture, vivacious character and class, these are strikingly beautiful wines. The latest Puligny-Montrachet, the 2011 is pure joy in the glass with vibrancy and charm, it shows white flowers, apple, white peach, lemon oil and spiced pear along with steely mineral, hazelnut and wet stones from a cold river. This is lovely Puligny, it feels decadent and noble without being heavy and while young it delivers lots of pleasure and finesse, drink over the next 5 to 8 years. While the 2010 was a tad more gripping and austere, the 2011 is more open and expressive, this is golden nectar through and through, both graceful and lively.
($100+ Est.) 95 Points, grapelive
La Paulee Burgundy Week San Francisco