The Burgundy Wine Region
Burgundy is one of the most confusing wine regions in the world, even though virtually all of the wine is either 100% Chardonnay or 100% Pinot Noir. There are 100 official appellations producing wine across four quality levels, ranging from Grand to down to the generic regional level wines of Bourgogne. Making it more confusing, the second level quality tier of Premier Crus are not actually appellations, but a collection of, at last count, 585 named vineyards. These named Premier Cru vineyards, along with the designation “Premier Cru”, can be placed on the label of Village level wine, implying an increase in the quality of the wine which falls between the Village and Grand Cru quality levels. But, to make it even more confusing, producers may list named vineyards on their Village level wines that are not Premier Cru level and simply named sections, or “climats” of the Village level vineyards. And, this is only the first level of consumer confusion.
The second source of confusion arrises from the result of the Napoleonic inheritances code. Almost all the vineyards of Burgundy are owned by multiple producers, in some instances as many as 70 or 75 different producers. The quality of wines from each vineyard can vary greatly depending on which producer created the wine. The source of these quality differences comes not only from different grape growing and winemaking production techniques, but, sometimes, from the actual location of the producers vines within the named vineyard.
Confused enough yet? Enter La Paulée, a week-long celebration of Burgundy wine started by Sommelier and Importer Daniel Johnnes in the year 2000. Attending the events of La Paulée are akin to enrolling in a graduate class on Burgundy wine, complete with the ability to sample some of the finest wines direct from the producer’s cellars. Wines which may not be available from any other source. There several types of events during the week, both tastings and wine-paired dinners. All events are worthy of attending, as a great deal of the various types of knowledge necessary to understand the Burgundy region can be gained at each event.
Following is the schedule for the 2016 event, along with our review of each event.
2016 La Paulée San Francisco Schedule
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 – Off Grid Tasting at Bluxome Street Winery
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 – Lunch with Etienne de Montille; A Study in Domaine de Montille Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts at 1760
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 – Legends Dinner with Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé at Coi
Thursday, March 3, 2016 – Collectors Lunch; A Twist on Preconceptions: Les Month Luisants du Domaine Dujac et Les Volnay du Domaine des Comtes Lafon at Quince
Friday, March 4, 2016 – Verticals Tasting at The Fairmont
Friday, March 4, 2016 – Rare Wine Dinner; Domaine Roulot and Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier at Jardinière
Saturday, March 5, 2016 – Grand Tasting at The Fairmont
Saturday, March 5, 2016 – The Gala Dinner at The Fairmont