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03.06.2008

The World's Best Burgundy? Tasting La Paulee de San Francisco

It's not every day that I get to leave a wine tasting knowing that I've probably spit out a volume of wine that would cost more than the entire contents of my own personal cellar. OK, I'm probably being slightly hyperbolic, but I did spend last Saturday tasting wines that for the most part I will never be able to afford to own.

The Grand Tasting at La Paulee de San Francisco offered an opportunity to taste approximately eighty top Burgundies from recent vintages alongside food samples from some of San Francisco's top restaurants, including Coi, A16, Boulevard, La Folie, Quince, Piperade, The Slanted Door, Michael Mina, and Aqua, among others. Very few opportunities exist to taste such a large number of such very expensive Pinot Noir, and almost never with the winemakers or estate owners in attendance as they were last Saturday at the ballroom of the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco.

As La Paulee is known as one of the best Burgundy tastings in the world, I couldn't help but have inflated expectations of the event, which both lived up to some, and partially disappointed in others. Let's get the bad out of the way first -- the event was crowded -- seriously crowded in a way that reminded me more of the ZAP Zinfandel tastings, or many of the other public wine tastings in California. A combination of a high lapaulee.jpgratio of attendees to number of tables, and the arrangement of all the tables tightly in the center of the room led to a serious crush at many of the tables, with wine lovers stacked three or four layers deep trying get some wine in their glasses.

This congestion made me wonder at the value of having the producers there in the first place, as they spent most of their time responding to a never-ending assault of outstretched glasses -- not exactly conducive to educational or social conversation.

The glasses themselves were small crystal tasting glasses, which, while adequate, certainly weren't what I was expecting from the creme-de-la-creme of Burgundy tastings. Riedel had an elaborate table of pinot noir wine glasses displayed, any one of which would have been better than the glasses we were given, many of which, unfortunately, smelled like detergent.

Finally, spit buckets were in somewhat short supply, and were only located at the wine tables, which added to the congestion, as tasters couldn't get their pours and then back away from the tables to spit.

On the other hand, the tasting booklet that was provided (with a handy compact pen) was super classy, and one of the best I've ever seen at a tasting, and the food was simply stellar.

And of course, the wines were excellent. As transcendent as I had imagined them to be? Perhaps not, but then again, these were all recent vintages of Burgundy, and I personally don't bother even thinking about drinking my red Burgundies for at least 5 years.

The reds were clearly the stars of the tasting. Frankly I was surprised that there were not more stunning whites, especially since there was an emphasis on producers from Meursault, which happens to be an appellation whose wines I really enjoy. There were, however, a few real standout whites that did their best to make up for some of their fellow wines, many of which were excellent in their own right.

Despite some logistical flaws, La Paulee was certainly the best Burgundy tasting that I've ever attended, and one that I can certainly say is worth the several hundred dollar price tag, if only from an educational standpoint, and from the point of view that it is certainly cheaper than buying even a single bottle of my favorite wines from the tasting.

WHITE WINES

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10
2005 Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot, Clos de la Chapelle, Domaine Duc de Magenta

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2005 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Charmes
2005 Chateau de Puligny Meursault 1er Cru Les Poruzots
2005 Joseph Drouhin Corton-Charlemagne
2004 Louis Jadot Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot, Clos de la Chapelle, Domaine Duc de Magenta
2005 Domaine François et Antoine Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Poruzots
2005 Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Chenevottes
2005 Domaine Ballot-Millot & Fils Meursault Les Criots

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2005 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre
2006 Maison Champy Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc
2006 Maison Champy Corton-Charlemagne
2006 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly
2005 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Corton-Charlemagne
2005 Domaine Pierre Morey Meursaults Les Tessons
2004 Domaine Simon Bize Savigny-lès-Beaune Blanc
2004 Chateau de Puligny Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières
2004 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Blanc
2005 Domaine François et Antoine Jobard Meursault En la Barre
2005 Domaine François et Antoine Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Blagny
2005 Domaine François et Antoine Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières
2005 Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Maltroie
2005 Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Grandes Ruchottes
2005 Michel Bouzereau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Charmes
2005 Domaine Michelot Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2006 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Mâcon Milly-Lamartine Clos du Four
2005 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines
2005 Pierre Yves Colin Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières
2005 Domaine Pierre Morey Saint-Aubin 1er Cru
2005 Domaine Simon Bize Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Aux Vergelesses Blanc
2005 Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet Blanc
2005 Domaine Rodolphe Demougeot Meursault
2005 Chateau de Citeaux Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières
2005 Domaine Jean Monnier & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2005 Jean-Philippe Fichet Meursault Les Tessons
2005 Domaine Xavier Monnet Meursault 1er Cru Charmes

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2005 Domaine Pierre Morey Bourgogne Chardonnay

WHITE WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8 AND 8.5
2005 Domaine Mikulski Meursault

WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8
2005 Remi Jobard Meursault 1er Cru Genevrières

RED WINES

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10
2005 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint Jacques
2005 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin
2003 Domaine de Montille Volnay 1er Cru Les Mitans

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2004 Alain Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes
2004 Alain Burguet Chambertin Clos de Bèze
2005 Alain Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes
2005 Alain Burguet Chambertin Clos de Bèze
2006 Domaine David Duband Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers
2005 Domaine de Montille Beaune 1er Cru Les Grèves
2002 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge
2005 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge
2004 Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2005 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Volnay 1er Cru Santenots du Milieu
2005 Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin
2005 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru "Clos de la Maréchale"
2005 Domaine Simon Bize Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Aux Vergelesses
2006 Domaine David Duband Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Clos Sorbé
2002 Domaine Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts
2005 Domaine Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts
2005 Louis Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cazetiers
2005 Domaine Jean Marie Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cherbaudes
2005 Domaine Jean Marie Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Goulots
2005 Domaine Jean Marie Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combe aux Moines
2005 Domaine Jean Marie Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos Saint Jacques

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2005 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin
2005 Maison Champy Corton
2005 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny
2005 Domaine Simon Bize Savigny-lès-Beaune Grands Liards
2006 Domaine David Duband Charmes-Chambertin
2005 Domaine David Duband Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers
2005 Domaine Georges Roumier Morey-Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière
2002 Domaine Georges Roumier Morey-Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière
2002 Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots
2005 Domaine Jean Grivot Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Boudots

RED WINES SCORING BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2005 Maison Champy Beaune 1er Cru Aux Cras
2004 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Musigny
2004 Domaine Georges Roumier Morey-Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière
2003 Domaine Georges Roumier Morey-Saint-Denis Clos de la Bussière

RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2004 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Chênes Carteaux
2005 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Chênes Carteaux
2005 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Clos de Porrets St Georges
2005 Domaine Henri Gouges Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers
2004 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru "Clos de la Maréchale"
2005 Pierre Morey Volnay 1er Cru Santenots

Comments (5)

Arthur wrote:
03.06.08 at 11:42 PM

Alder,
Your top rated wines seem to fall in the $50-$100 range. Not all that cost prohibitive.

Alder wrote:
03.06.08 at 11:47 PM

Arthur,

You're only looking at the whites.... ;-)

Arthur wrote:
03.06.08 at 11:57 PM

D'oh!!!!!

I thought I'd clicked on a few of the reds....

Just like the $3000 Krug Champagne, I'll have to wait until the kiddies are out of college....

-Victor- wrote:
03.07.08 at 12:46 AM

Alder

What a stellar lineup! The much heralded '05 vintage is just coming into the market where I am. I was in Burgundy in Oct. and tasted through many '05's and have been more impressed with the vintage than any in recent memory. I am suprised the Henri Gouges wines scored at the bottom of your list. I have always liked this producer in the past.

Brian wrote:
03.07.08 at 2:27 AM

Alder,
Nice post and nice to see you there. I agree it was an unfortunately managed crowd.

I was supprised to find that the lesser heralded vintages of 04 and 06 showed, in my opinion, every bit as well as the (over?)hyped '05s. Something special certainly happened in 05, but vintage variation is a beautiful thing!

Best
Brian

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