News and Notes from the World of Wine
Burgundy Comes to California At La Paulée de San Francisco
Thirteen renowned Burgundian vintners arrived at San Francisco's W Hotel on March 3 to host the year's biggest Burgundy bash this side of the Atlantic. Modeled after Burgundy's annual harvest festival, La Paulée, the San Francisco event featured a tasting, dinner gala and auction where top-notch wines flowed like water, and winemakers and collectors rubbed shoulders to indulge in their dream vintages.
Five hundred guests paid up to $1,200 each to attend. Many enjoyed a sumptuous dinner prepared by such well-known chefs as Chicago's Charlie Trotter, New York's Daniel Boulud (Restaurant Daniel), and San Francisco's Hubert Keller (Fleur de Lys) and Roland Passot (La Folie).
Among the French winemakers in attendance were Jean-Pierre De Smet (Domaine de L'Arlot), Jean-Marc Brocard, Rosalind and Jeremy Seysses (Domaine Dujac), Pierre-Henry Gagey (Louis Jadot), Michel Lafarge, Denis Mortet, Michel Niellon and Guillaume Bott (Domaine Etienne Sauzet).
Numerous California vintners were also present, albeit to taste rather than pour. Cult Cabernet producers Ann Colgin, Naoko Dalla Valle and Delia Viader were seen sipping away. Pinot Noir winemakers Josh Jensen (Calera), Bob Sessions (Hanzell) and Burt Williams (who founded Williams Selyem) flocked to the afternoon tasting as well to sample a broad selection from Burgundy's 1998 vintage. True to form, the young wines—both reds and whites—were, for the most part, tight and reserved.
"My wines shouldn't be drunk before they are at least five years old," said Michel Lafarge. "It's too bad that so many people can't wait for them to mature."
Fortunately, American collectors have long realized that great Burgundy is worth waiting for. Following La Paulée's B.Y.O.B. tradition, they showed up for dinner with their own beautifully cellared wines from such noteworthy producers as Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Henri Jayer, Michel Lafarge and Jean Grivot.
Charity also received its due: A post-dinner auction led by Ursula Hermacinski netted $267,000 to benefit Meals on Wheels of San Francisco and the San Francisco Food Bank. Another $40,000 was earmarked for medical expenses for Chef Jean-Louis Palladin, who is suffering from lung cancer. Eric Greenburg made the evening's highest bid: $75,000. The San Francisco investor won a dinner for 10 to be cooked by Trotter, with wine service by master sommelier Larry Stone of Rubicon.
Manhattan-based sommelier and wine writer Daniel Johnnes, wine director at Montrachet restaurant, organized La Paulée de San Francisco. Last year he spearheaded the first U.S. La Paulée in New York. Future plans call for alternating East and West Coast events each year. For information on next year's event, call 212/625-2519.