La Paulée is a Burgundian celebration held at the end of the grape harvest. This was once a widespread practice throughout France but now most often refers to the festivities held in Meursault. La Paulée de Meursault is part of Les Trois Glorieuses, "the three glorious days," that take place around Beaune on the third weekend of each November. The first day centers on a Saturday banquet hosted by the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin at the Château du Clos Vougeot. On Sunday, the renowned auction of Hospices de Beaune wines is held in the beautiful fifteenth century Hôtel-Dieu. The grand finale of this oenophilic trilogy is La Paulée, an extravagant luncheon that starts at noon on Monday at the Château de Meursault and continues well into the evening.
The modern day La Paulée was initiated by Jules Lafon, one of Burgundy's most respected wine growers, in 1923 when he decided to revive the traditional medieval grape harvest celebration to which Cistercian monks invited their vineyard laborers. Lafon held his first Paulée at his Meursault domaine, inviting thirty-five of his friends to a small banquet in the vat-room. Neighboring viticulturists decided that Lafon had an excellent idea, and over the next few years La Paulée de Meursault expanded rapidly. By 1932, it was officially established as a annual event.
Over the years, La Paulée has changed a bit from the original communal banquet for growers and their workers. Though such vineyard celebrations with harvest participants have continued, the official La Paulée has become a grand gala attended by Meursault growers and producers along with other wine connoisseurs. It is a privilege to attend and reservations are mostly made a year in advance.
A special feature of La Paulée de Meursault is that everyone brings wine which, no doubt, makes it the world's classiest BYOB party. A friendly but intense competition reigns as bottles are uncorked, shared and imbibed. Anyone who appreciates fine wine and cuisine should try to attend this event, which captures the essence of Burgundy's joie de vivre.
La Paulée de New York is Daniel Johnnes' homage to La Paulée de Meursault and the traditions of Burgundy. It is his humble attempt to transport the Burgundy spirit of generosity and camaraderie to an enthusiastic and passionate Burgundy loving American clientele.
The first La Paulée de New York took place in March of 2000. Since then we have celebrated La Paulée in San Francisco, in New York, and in Aspen, Colorado. La Paulée de New York and La Paulée de San Francisco have received rave reviews by press and guests alike. In his review of La Paulée, Robert Parker noted, "Any Burgundy enthusiast who doesn't jump at the opportunity to attend this event is crazy as it is a dinner/tasting of a lifetime."
Photos Courtesy of Philippe Ballot, President of La Paulée de Meursault, and Domaine des Comtes Lafon.