Thursday, March 13, 2008

La Paulee Takes San Francisco by Storm: Part II

Part II :

Rob Landsness

We moved into the ballroom to be wowed by a tidal wave of great food and wine...

The tasting menu was prepared by Daniel Boulud, Traci Des Jardins, Michael Mina, and Regis & Jacques Marcon:

Hors d’Oeuvres by Michael Mina

Hamachi Tartare

Main Lobster


Charcuteries by Daniel Boulud

Charlotte de Ris de Veau by Regis & Jacques Marcon

Braised Monkfish by Michael Mina

Liberty Farms Duckbreast by Traci Des Jardins

Comte Saint Antoine by Murray’s Cheese

Chocolate Torta, Ras El Hanout, Dried Apricot by Michael Mina

There were no arguments about the food, while the courses were spread out perhaps a bit too long, each plate was magnificent from start to finish.

On the other hand, I can tell you that there were many heated discussions about the wines!

Burgundy lovers are very particular and in an event like La Paulee it seemed that many were trying to prove that their palates and experience were superior when compared to their peers. Maybe it also has to do with how many styles Burgundy can project. Every vintage is different, each producer and region can be so completely original when compared to even a close neighbor. Often times many relatives who share the last name will make wine from the same vineyard. Jacques X may make amazing wines while Lucien X may make wine not worth pursuing.

Between Les Cadets de Bourgogne singing their traditional chorus with great pomp, the charity auction supporting Meals on Wheels, the Sommelier Seminar Contest, each hour that went by the crowd seemed to get lifted more into a hedonistic frenzy. Forty bottles of Burgundy (sounds like the name of a drinking song?) were opened at our table that I managed to write down. Multiply that by the other tables, more than 200 guests I am sure, and the numbers are staggering. Were there more bottles opened that night of great Burgundy than in the whole of Burgundy during those hours?

I will recount briefly a few of the bottles opened at the Chevalier-Montrachet table:

2000 Moreau Chassagne-Montrachet les Grandes Ruchottes

1979 Louis Jadot Chambertin

1995 de Montille Volnay Champans

1988 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques

1990 Tollot Beaut Corton-Charlemagne (Magnum)

1985 Paul Pernot Batard Montrachet

1985 Ampeau Meursault Charmes

1996 Mugnier Les Amoureuses

1989 Louis Jadot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres

1999 Grivot Clos Vogeot

1995 Rousseau Clos de la Roche

1999 Rouget Vosne Romanee Les Beaumonts

1979 Guyon Corton

1990 Giroud Clos Vogeot

1990 Leroy Corton

1995 Louis Jadot Clos de Beze

1978 Louis Jadot Corton

1999 Confuron Romanee St Vivante

2000 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche

1978 Clos de Lambrays (Double Magnum)

1990 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux

While I will not go over all the wines I do want to mention a few that stood out as exceptional. Hands down for me the greatest whites of the evening were the 1990 Tollot Beaut Corton Charlemagne in magnum, the 1985 Paul Pernot Batard Montrachet, and the 2000 Drouhin Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche. The Tollot Beaut was a definite surprise, completely layered with complexity, full bodied yet fresh on the palate. It emerged with time and just kept coming. The Paul Pernot was full of popcorn butter and richness. The Drouhin was a revelation; ‘borrowed’ from a neighboring table... it was brilliant with bright citrus flavors and rich custard and minerals on the palate.

For the reds it was a much larger playing field and bigger competition. The 1988 Rousseau Clos St. Jacques was spicy with high pitched red fruit and a lovely finish. The 1996 Mugnier les Amoureuses showed the typical backbone of 1996 Burgundy, yet it had a wonderfully suave character that carried it through. The 1999 Rouget Les Beaumonts was a revelation, the table loved it. The wines of the night for me, frustratingly, came at the end of the dinner.

I wish it wasn’t midnight when a double magnum of Clos de Lambrays walked by carried by a very generous attendee. It was stunning, jumping from the glass in a wave of truffles and forest floor. Then of course some large format DRC, was it Grandes Echezeaux 1979 in double magnum? Incredible. Followed by a small taste of something I have been wanting to try again forever. 1990 Henri Jayer Cros Parantoux. Simply a blockbuster of a wine, so rich, so complex, so over the top I was speechless and my palate was dulled down at that point and yet greatness could be sensed. Wow.

Lots of coffee and a few boisterous songs by the Cadets de Bourgogne and it was time to retire for the night. Of course I missed an after party that was over the top, putting major dents in the Michael Mina wine list and a few wine collectors passed out at their tables. Some were picking up the pieces at 5am that morning.

I was dreaming, sound asleep, about next year’s event in NYC. I hope you can join me!

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