Be Part of the Great History of Burgundy’s La Paulée

What is La Paulée?

Centuries ago, the citizens of Burgundy were recovering from the dual ravages of the Hundred Years War and outbreaks of the plague. Nicolas Rolin, chancellor to Duke Phillip the Good, and his wife, Guigone de Salins, built the Hospices de Beaune, a free hospital and refuge for the poor. It endured over the centuries and functioned as a hospital until 1970, when a new modern facility was built nearby – all paid for by the annual sale of wine. For generations winegrowers have endowed the Hospice with gifts of the vineyards. Every year the harvests refill the coffers of this great public institution. Wine growing is indeed the alchemy of agriculture.

Every year since 1859 on the third Sunday in November, the Hospices de Beaune holds their charity auction in this magnificent example of Northern Renaissance architecture. The three-day festival is known as Les Trois Glorieuses. Saturday there is a black tie gala dinner held in the Clos de Vougeot. Sunday is the auction in the Hotel Dieu. And Monday is La Paulée de Meursault, an annual party to celebrate the wines of Burgundy and the hard work of the winegrowers; a celebration founded in the mid-1920s by Comte Lafon of Meursault. All of the vignerons bring bottles of their best wines to share with their compatriots. Lunch starts at noon and ends around seven… Truly a Dionysian revel! 

What’s La Paulée de San Francisco?

Fast forward to 2000 when Daniel Johnnes started La Paulée de New York as his tribute to La Paulée de Meursault. Since then it has grown into the the greatest Burgundy event in North America. Winemakers, chefs, wine collectors and sommeliers all look forward to this annual event, a bacchanal that is held in alternating years in New York and San Francisco. And this March 1st-5th the celebration will be in San Francisco!

How do I join in the fun?

There is no better place to try a dizzying array of Burgundy’s greatest wines than the Grand Tasting. It is a rare opportunity to meet growers from top Burgundy domains who are on hand pouring their wines and telling their stories. This is an event not to miss…  Just try not to drink everything and remember to spit so that you don’t sleep through the gala dinner!

Following the Grand Tasting is Saturday night’s is the Gala Dinner, a very social event that epitomizes the spirit of La Paulée de Meursault. Bring your best wines to share with the people at your table and your neighbors. There is a communal spirit to the gala dinner that encourages camaraderie and revelry. La Paulée is undoubtedly one of the best parties of the year.

John Truax

Comments are closed.