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Inspired stories about artisan wine and taste makers.
by L.M. Archer FWS, Bourgogne ML
La Grand Séduction | La Paulée de San Francisco 2016
“The heart has its reasons which Reason knows nothing of…”-Pascal
French men and their mistresses. It’s a common practice little understood by puritanical Americans. Unless you’re a lover of Burgundy. Then you understand. Understand infatuation in a beauty beyond understanding. Intoxication in an ethereal being beyond beguiling.
Burgundy. A demure, perplexing diva who requires patience, rewards fealty, and demands stamina.
Viola! Enter La Paulée de San Francisco 2016, brainchild of Daniel Johnnes, Wine Director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group, founder of La Paulée de New York, and the co-founder of La Fête du Champagne.
La Paulée de San Francisco 2016 proffers Burgundy aficionados a week-long series of fêtes designed to showcase the region, events that artfully combine American bravado with Burgundian discretion.
Two prime examples of this enticing juxtaposition include Off the Grid Tasting held March 1, 2016 at Bluxome Street Winery, showcasing established and emerging wine talent throughout Burgundy, followed by the Grand Tasting on March 5, 2016 at Fairmont San Francisco, which highlighted traditional prestige domaines. While different in approach, both sold-out events showcase the impact of the vigneron and the vintage upon the voice of the wine, as well as the significance of sommeliers in helping ‘interpret” their stories to consumers.
Here are, then, a few impressions of the vignerons, vintage, and vine whisperers so essential to the success of La Paulée de San Francisco 2016:
“We are here for nature to show us her best. The wine grower must pledge to be modest, honorable, and humble towards all the riches of nature that are concentrated in such a small place.” – Henri Jayer
The French have no word for ‘wine maker.’ In Burgundy, one does not ‘make’ wine, but assists in its development, much as a parent raises a child.
And despite the meteoric rise in land and auction prices, the vignerons of Burgundy evidence a trademark modesty that belies their star power upon the world wine stage.
Indeed. At La Paulée de San Francisco 2016 Grand Tasting, luminaries from Dominique Lafon of Domaine des Comtes Lafon to Veronique Drouhin-Boss of Maison Joseph Drouhin and Ludivine Griveau of Hospices de Beaune held court with American collectors, wine professionals, and media with a social grace and personal ease belying their star power. Most wore jeans, many sported scarves, all shared wry smiles as they moved from table to table trying one another’s wines and making droll remarks in their native tongue. Enchanté!
“2013 – a dagger in the heart of the Côte de Beaune.” – Bill Nanson, Burgundy Report
La Paulée de San Francisco 2016 displayed the 2013 vintage in all it’s arresting complexity. 2013 – a year of low yields, intense triage, and high drama. As described by Bill Nanson in his always prescient Burgundy Report, 2013 unraveled from the start, including a cloudy, cool, wet flowering resulting in coulure and millerandage, followed by wind, followed by summer in late June…followed by the infamous ’23rd of July’ hailstorm, that cut through Savigny, Volnay, Pommard and Beaune with greater intensity than a British revanche during the Hundred Year war…many a tear shed (privately, of course – this is Burgundy, after all), a few bankruptcies filed, and then a cooling, rot-bearing September. In a ‘race between ripeness and rot,’ a heavily triaged harvest rolled out into October. The result? Wines Jancis Robinson refer to as ‘fresh and focused.’ In short, a year of character. And stunning whites, including those of Chablis, Meursault, St. Aubin, and the Mâconnais.
But this is America. And America loves celebrities. While the event pays homage to Burgundy,La Paulée de San Francisco 2016 also serves as the stage upon which the city’s celebrity sommeliers strut and fret their stuff with the coiled energy of a team of toreadors. From the likes of Chef Sommelier Joshua Thomas of Prospect, to Bobby Conroy of Benu, Haley Guild Moore of Stock & Bones, Rebecca Fineman of Sociale, and Petra Polakovicova of Epic Steak House, these ‘vine whisperers’ interpreted the nuances of Burgundy’s regions, producers, and vintages to participants with passionate aplomb.
La Paulée de San Francisco 2016 serves then as a touchstone for any true student of the vine, and witching stick for those in search of authenticity.
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