Anyone who has read Bianca Bosker’s “Cork Dork” is undoubtedly familiar with La Paulée. Or at least, the New York City version of it. Bosker dedicates almost an entire chapter in her book to “The Orgy” – the nickname she gives to Paulée. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m a member of the La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin (aka, the “Chevaliers”), and thus far have attended a grand total of two Paulée. However, neither have reached anywhere near the level of debauchery that she describes – whether this is fortunate or unfortunate, my jury is still out.
After moving earlier this year, I looked into transferring from the Seattle Chevaliers to a local Southern California chapter. And luckily, I found a wonderful group not too far from where we lived.
The first SoCal Chevaliers event I attended was Paulée, which I attended solo as Hubs was out of town. Paulée was traditionally a celebration in Burgundy where Cistercian monks invited their vineyard laborers to a banquet event to culminate the end of harvest. The modern day Chevaliers’ version is a grand dinner party where guests bring a bottle (or two) from their cellars to share with other members. Both Paulée I have attended have been hosted in beautiful stately homes, served with delicious Burgundian-inspired cuisine and fabulous once-in-a-lifetime bottles of wine.
As Bosker says in her book: “The golden rule of La Paulée was bring the best you can bring. Whether you’re a hedge fund CEO or an unemployed journalist, it should hurt just a little.” I’m not going to disclose the amount spent on my bottle for Paulée, mainly because it would be in poor taste. But also because Hubs edits my posts. 😉 Suffice it to say, it did hurt a little.
My wine was a 1998 Domaine Méo Camuzet Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru ‘Aux Brulées’. Purchasing a grand cru probably would’ve meant Hubs leaving me, so I opted for premier cru instead – but made sure it was from a top producer. Plus, founder Étienne Camuzet previously owned the Château du Clos de Vougeot – and was responsible for getting it into the hands of the Confrérie – so that was a fun bit of trivia to share along with the wine. While my bottle was far from being the most prestigious at Paulée, I am pleased to report that I at least held my own.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the extraordinary bottles at Paulée. Not because I didn’t want to (believe me!) – but because nobody else did. And I certainly wasn’t going to be “that person” – especially at my first event at the new chapter. I do wonder about this though . . . are the other members not as impressed with these wines as I am? Is drinking Corton-Charlemagne a regular occurrence for them? Or, since most of the attendees were of a different generation than me, do they just not have the incessant need to document every single wine that they drink on social media? I’m guessing its the latter. And there’s something to be said for that.
A lack of accompanying photographs notwithstanding, here are some of the highlight bottles from the event…
1990 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Amoureuses’. This was served in a magnum and was simply gorgeous in all its gossamer goodness.
1966 Nuits-Saint-Georges – from a producer I was unfamiliar with and now cannot remember. This reminds me of a quote from Bosker’s book when she refers to her evening at Paulée: “I tasted my favorite wine of the night and I had no idea what it was.” Lesson learned for me though, next time I’ll rush to the loo and write the name down.
1972 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti. This wine would cross off two Biggies on my wine bucket list: a DRC itself, and my first birthyear wine. I say “would” cross off because even though I had a small glass of this wine at Paulée- I’m conflicted because the bottle was missing its label.
Now, I’m absolutely certain that the member who purchased it did so at a reputable auction. Because after master counterfeiter Rudy Kurniawan – due diligence has to increase exponentially when it comes to these wines. Since I’ve never had DRC, I have nothing to compare this wine to, but it truly was beautiful. Layered, complex, earthy and still lively (us ’72s are still kicking!)
However . . . I’m a bit cynical. And a wine professing to be DRC, but without a label, gives me pause. So, I’m leaving these boxes on my wine bucket list unchecked. I’ll get to them someday – even though I know when I do, it will hurt A LOT. 😉
(For those interested – I just put up my outline on Vosne-Romanée. Mind you, this is broad overview of the area. Entire books have been dedicated to this village if you’d like something more in depth).