I don't drink nearly enough Burgundy. But that's not saying much. Most wine lovers without trust funds or best-friend-sommeliers might complain of the same thing. The region's really amazing wines are just too expensive for mere mortals to buy with any regularity. All of which is why I usually jump at the chance to attend the La Paulee de San Francisco event whenever it comes to San Francisco every couple of years.
The La Paulee Grand Tasting provides an opportunity to taste a large amount of incredibly high quality Burgundy in an afternoon's walk around the Fairmont ballroom, with brief stops for a bite or two from some pretty amazing restaurants and chefs. But it remains hard to focus on the food when so much great wine is on offer.
The event tries to highlight an individual vintage, and this year's focus was 2011. I've only tasted a handful of 2011 Burgundies besides those I sampled at this year's tasting, but on the basis of my experience so far, it seems that many producers were able to make excellent wines despite the chaos of the year (hail, highly fluctuating temperatures, late summer rains, etc). I'm an acid lover, and 2011 seems to generally deliver bright, zingy acidity in both reds and whites from up and down the Cote d'Or. Tannins seem relatively smooth and even restrained, and the fruit quality seems very high given the year's overall reputation as challenging.
Here are my notes and scores from the best wines I tasted at this year's tasting.
WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2011 François Carillon Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Combettes $105
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of crushed nuts and lemon curd. In the mouth, tangy and piney flavors of lemon curd have a silky texture, and nutty flavors turn floral in the long finish. Beautifully textured and balanced with searing (great!) acidity, this wine is vibrant and delicious. click to buy.
2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Batard-Montrachet $400
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of piney/sappy wet stones and lemon zest. In the mouth, tangy lemon zest, pomelo and pink grapefruit pop and zing with fantastic, crystalline acidity. The citrus crescendo rolls for a long time through the finish. Outstanding and utterly gulpable. click to buy.
2011 Joseph Drouhin Corton-Charlemagne $195
Pale gold in color, this wine smells of piney and tangy lemon curd and grapefruit. In the mouth the wine presents as deeply mineral despite a richly sensual, satin texture. Lemon curd and mixed citrus juice rides bright and juicy on the palate with fantastic acidity and balance. Rich but not heavy. Electrifying.click to buy.
2011 Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre $145
Palest gold in color, this wine smells of tangy lemon zest. In the mouth, incredibly juicy flavors of bright mixed citrus seem steeped in crystalline mountain spring water. Outstanding acidity and length. Gorgeous. click to buy.
2011 Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vergers $90
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of Wintersweet blossoms, fragrant and faintly sweet. In the mouth the wine is tangy and juicy, with lemon and grapefruit and white flowers dancing dynamically through the mouth for a long time. Quite compelling. click to buy.
2011 Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Grandes Ruchottes $130
Pale gold in the glass, this wine has a distinctly floral aroma mixed with grapefruit. In the mouth tangy, even sour, lemon and floral flavors are shot through with a crystalline minerality that lingers in a long, airy finish. Remarkably pure and bright. click to buy.
2011 Domaine William Fevre Grand Cru Bougros Côte Bouguerots $83
Near colorless in the glass this wine smells of smoky wet stones. In the mouth the first thing you notice is just how silky and almost viscous it is on the palate, and then the waterfall of liquefied stone and lemon and lime oil cascade across your palate with electric, crackling acidity. Hints of white flowers emerge on the long finish. Outstanding. click to buy.
WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2011 Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachet $49
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon zest and wet stones. In the mouth bright flavors of lemon oil and lemon pith mix with a deep mineral undertone that is quite compelling. Fantastic acidity and length. click to buy.
2011 Comtes Lafon Meursault Charmes
2011 Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches
2011 François Carillon Puligny-Montrachet
2011 François Carillon Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Perrières
2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault-Genevrieres 1er Cru
2011 Joseph Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche
2011 Bernard Moreau et Fils Chassagne-Montrachert 1er Cru La Maltroie
2011 Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
2011 Hospices de Beaune Meursault-Genevrières 1er Cru Cuvée Philippe Le Bon
2011 Domaine Vincent Latour Meursault "Les Grands Charrons"
2011 Domaine William Fevre Grand Cru Les Clos
2011 Maison Louis Jadot Savigny-lès-Beaune "Clos des Guettes" Blanc
2011 Maison Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2011 Domaine Chanson Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Chenevottes
2011 François Carillon Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Les Champs Gains
2011 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Baudines
2012 Comtes Lafon Viré-Clessé
2011 Christian Moreau Chablis 1er Cru Vaillon
2011 Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur
2011 Domaine William Fevre Grand Cru Vaudésir
WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2011 Alain Gras Saint Romain Blanc
2011 Christian Moreau Chablis
2011 Hospices de Beaune Pouilly-Fuissé Cuvée Françoise Poisard
2011 Domaine William Fevre 1er Cru Vaulorent
WHITE WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 8.5
2012 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Saint Aubin 1er Cru en Remilly
RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 10
2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertin $1499
Light garnet in the glass, this wine has an incredible perfumed nose of forest floor and crushed berries, wafting out of the glass with such strength that you hardly need to get your nose close to it to be carried away. In the mouth... well you can just kill me now. Phenomenally silky flavors of raspberries, exotic flowers, wet earth and wet stones resonate like a massive gong struck once and left to shimmer with sensation for minutes. Simultaneously deep and electrically juicy, with a kiss of oak present (but I don't care) this is a wine that merits expletives of the finest fucking kind. click to buy.
RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9.5 AND 10
2011 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Clos St Jacques $379
Light garnet in the glass, this is one of the most floral Burgundies I can remember smelling. Forest floor and redcurrant seem carried on a perfumed breeze of exotic flowers. In the mouth flavors of dried flowers and forest floor are borne on a shimmering satin stream of texture across the palate. Velvety tannins cushion the spiky, boisterous fruit flavors, and temper the razor sharp minerality and acidity. An incredibly sexy wine that I wish to hell I could afford. click to buy.
2011 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Combe aux Moines $200
Pale garnet in color, this wine smells of floral overtones, wet stones, and forest floor. In the mouth, smooth, athletic tannins wrap around an incredibly juicy core of floral, raspberry, and mineral flavors that have been steeped in a tea of dark forest loam. Incredible balance and depth, with fantastic acidity. Phenomenal. click to buy.
2011 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Cherbaudes $149
Pale garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers, forest floor and raspberries. In the mouth the wine is incredibly silky, with flavors of raspberry and redcurrant that all but burst on the palate thanks to outstanding acidity. Fine grained, barely perceptible tannins hang in the background. Stunning and pure. click to buy.
RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9.5
2011 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Taillepieds $150
Light garnet in color, this wine has a wonderfully smoky, mineral aroma filtered through the earthy depths of a forest floor. In the mouth the wine is much the same, with deep forest floor qualities that provide a plush bedding for incredibly bright forest berries that are juicy thanks to excellent acidity. Great balance and length. click to buy.
2011 David Duband Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Les Pruliers $80
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest floor, mushrooms, and smoked meats. In the mouth juicy redcurrant and meaty umami flavors take on a spiciness and an incense smokiness. Gorgeous acidity and fantastic gauzy tannins round out the unique and compelling wine. A stunner. click to buy.
2011 Hudelot-Noellat Clos de Vougeot $170
Light garnet in color, this wine has a wonderfully perfumed nose of forest berries and deep earthy forest floor. In the mouth astonishingly bright crushed raspberry and redcurrant flavors take on a bright citrusy edge through a fantastically long finish. Faint, almost imperceptible tannins add depth and texture along with deeper mineral and earth undertones. Stunning. click to buy.
2011 Hudelot-Noellat Romanée Saint Vivant $499
Light ruby in color, this wine smells of wet stones, exotic flowers, and juicy berries. In the mouth tart, sour cherry flavors are dusted with fine grained tannins. The sour cherry flavors turn raspberry and then citrus peel as they linger through the very long finish. Outstanding acidity and fantastic juicy deliciousness. Yowza. click to buy.
2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Clos de la Roche $350
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of an old pine forest after a rain, deep and spongy, but with aromatic flowers growing up out of the darkness in small beams of sunlight. In the mouth, deeply earthy and mushroomy flavors dance with citrus and redcurrant, bright and juicy on the palate. Faint tannins hang in the background and let the fruit and forest play. Deep and remarkable. click to buy.
2011 Maison Louis Jadot Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru $125
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of forest floor and bright crushed berries. In the mouth tight tannins wrap around a gorgeous, juicy redcurrant core that mellows into raspberry and other forest berries mixed with pine duff. Beautifully textured and long. Quite delicious, and ready to age for the long term. click to buy.
RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 9 AND 9.5
2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin $??
Pale garnet in color, this wine smells of mushrooms, dried flowers and juicy redcurrant. In the mouth redcurrant, raspberry and citrus flavors are wrapped in sandpapery tannins and suffused with a deep earthiness that is quite compelling. The fruit juicily bounces on top of the bass notes, and lingers for a long time in the finish.
2011 Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux Saint Jacques $349
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of exotic flowers and forest floor. In the mouth the wine is quite tight, like a coiled spring of wet stone, raspberries and violets. The tannins are hard and stony, but not to the point of impenetrability. click to buy.
2011 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs Monopole $200
Tight and cedary. click to buy.
2011 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Fremiet $100
Smoky and bright. click to buy.
2011 Maison Louis Jadot Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru Les Sentiers $80 click to buy.
2011 Domaine Marquis d'Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Champans $110 click to buy.
2010 David Duband Charmes-Chambertin $160 click to buy.
2011 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin $80 click to buy.
2011 Hudelot-Noellat Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Suchots $125 click to buy.
2011 Comtes Lafon Volnay Santenots du Milieu $150 click to buy.
RED WINES WITH A SCORE AROUND 9
2011 Hospices de Beaune Clos de la Roche Cuvée Georges Kritter
Medium garnet in color this wine smells of forest floor and fresh raspberry fruit. In the mouth, juicy raspberry, truffle, and wet dirt flavors mix with some oak. Fine grained tannins and long finish. Excellent acidity.
2011 Domaine Chanson Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Fèves Monopole
2011 Domaine Chanson Pernand Vergelesses 1er Cru les Vergelesses
2011 Joseph Drouhin Beaune 1er Cru Clos des Mouches Rouge
2011 Joseph Drouhin Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Procès
2011 David Duband Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru Clos Sorbè
2011 Alain Gras Saint Romain Rouge
2011 Alain Gras Auxey-Duresses Rouge
2011 Hospices de Beaune Pommard-Epenots 1er Cru Cuvée Dom Goblet
RED WINES WITH A SCORE BETWEEN 8.5 AND 9
2011 David Duband Gevrey-Chambertin
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
The Essence of Wine Wins a Roederer Award I'll Drink to That: Carenn Jackson of Glazer's Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 13, 2015 Vinography Images: True Blue 2015 Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting: September 28, San Francisco Is Wine Ready for its Close Up? Warm Up: Pre-Prohibition Texas Wine I'll Drink to That: Chad Carey of Hot Joy 2015 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 20, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 9/13
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune