Saturday, June 15, 2024

La Paulée Brings Its Burgundy Celebration Back to Los Angeles: ‘Wines That You’ll Likely Never Get to Taste Again’

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With its focus on the consciously produced wines of Burgundy, the La Paulée wine festival returns to Los Angeles for a week of highly curated events.

La Paulée, the world-renowned Burgundy wine festival, is poised to make its grand return to Los Angeles from February 27 to March 2, 2024, bringing its signature celebration of the region’s beloved wine and culture for the second year. With a history of successful events in New York, San Francisco, and Aspen, the festival, produced by the esteemed sommelier Daniel Johnnes and his organization Pressoir, aims to replicate the spirit of generosity and camaraderie found in Burgundy’s own La Paulée de Meursault.

This year’s La Paulée promises guests an exquisite lineup of events, blending the finest of Burgundy’s wines with Los Angeles’ culinary excellence. The festival will kick off with an intimate dinner featuring Domaine de Montille, where guests will enjoy a selection of wines from the esteemed estate alongside a tasting menu from Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Ari Rosenson at Spago. This event sets the tone for a series of tastings, seminars, and dinners, each designed to highlight the remarkable diversity and quality of Burgundy’s vinicultural offerings.

Wine in a glass outside.
Photo courtesy Marcel Gross

One of the festival’s highlights, the “Off Grid” tasting, offers attendees the chance to explore Burgundy’s hidden gems, presenting over 75 wines from the region’s major areas. This outdoor event, hosted at Redbird Garden, encourages interaction with top sommeliers and offers insights into great-value wines and emerging winemakers. Following this, a series of dinners with renowned domaines such as Antoine Jobard and Hudelot-Noëllat and Pierre Morey & Domaine Fourrier will showcase the terroirs of Côte de Beaune and Côte de Nuits through their exceptional wines.

The festival will also feature a unique Verticals Tasting, allowing guests to experience three-vintage verticals of signature wines from participating domaines. This intimate gathering, set in The Maybourne’s Garden Terrace, emphasizes the depth and evolution of Burgundy’s wines. The grand finale, the Gala Dinner, will see celebrated chefs including Daniel Boulud and Walter Manzke prepare a menu to be enjoyed alongside wines brought by attendees and participating winemakers, fostering a truly communal spirit.

La Paulée’s commitment to showcasing Burgundy’s finest is evident in the caliber of its events and the participation of some of the region’s most celebrated producers. The festival not only offers a deep dive into the complexities of Burgundy’s wines but also aims to celebrate the joy and community that wine can bring. We chatted with Max Goldberg-Liu, the Director of Communications for Pressoir, about the upcoming La Paulée events in Los Angeles beginning next week.

*This article is edited for length and clarity.

Ethos: Can you share the inspiration behind bringing La Paulée to cities across the United States (and now Los Angeles for its second year)?

MGL: While New York will always be La Paulée’s “home base” in the U.S., we love bringing the energy of the festival and its Burgundian spirit to other markets. For many years, we alternated New York and San Francisco, and in 2022, decided to make LA our new West Coast home away from home. With one of the most dynamic food and beverage scenes in the U.S. today, Los Angeles is a natural fit for La Paulée’s mission of bringing passionate wine lovers to celebrate Burgundy.

Ethos: Can you discuss the selection process for the Burgundy producers featured at this year’s festival and what makes them stand out?

MGL: We are fortunate to have planted deep roots in Burgundy through many years of travel and cultivating relationships in the region we love. These close ties allow us to curate a selection of the best domaines of Burgundy, many of which attend La Paulée every year. One very important thing for us when building each edition’s roster is to showcase the region in its entirety — both geographically (with estates from Chassagne-Montrachet in the south, all the way to Gevrey-Chambertin, covering the entire Côte d’Or, plus the northern region of Chablis) and in terms of size (we welcome small producers that make 10,000 bottles per year as well as the large négociants like Bouchard and Jadot). The one common denominator in the selection process is quality first and foremost.

Vineyard.
Photo courtesy Daniel Salgado

Ethos: La Paulée is known for its exclusive tastings and seminars. What can attendees expect from the 2024 program in terms of unique wine experiences?

MGL: We have an awesome lineup of small dinners at Spago, Kato, Bicyclette, and Marino, each with a star domaine or pairing of domaines, and a special tasting menu that we closely collaborated on with each restaurant’s chef. Each of these dinners has a lineup of 12-15 wines that you’ll likely never get to taste again all in one sitting. This year’s Grand Tasting will mostly showcase the 2021 vintage which was quite small in most parts of Burgundy, so the wines will be very hard to find on the market, and it might be the one opportunity to taste so many wines from the vintage.

The most unique experience at La Paulée is our flagship event, the Gala Dinner. Modeled after La Paulée de Meursault (our namesake, a post-harvest gala luncheon in the village of Meursault), the Gala Dinner is a BYO where guests bring wines from their cellars to share with friends both old and new. There is an incredible energy in the room, as everyone walks around with a bottle in one hand, and a glass in the other, trading pours and sharing their passion for Burgundy.

Ethos: How does the festival plan to cater to both serious collectors and curious novices in the world of Burgundy wines? 

MGL: Most of La Paulée’s program is squarely in the wheelhouse of serious collectors of Burgundy —especially the Verticals Tasting at the Maybourne Beverly Hills, a walk-around tasting where each participating domaine presents a three-vintage vertical of a signature wine, which allows you to form an image of a wine’s evolution over time. Curious novices will be right at home at the Off Grid tasting at Redbird in DTLA, which champions the accessible side of Burgundy and its value-oriented wines. 

Glass of wine.
Courtesy Diogo Brandao

Ethos: The festival also features a segment dedicated to Champagne Salon & Champagne Delamotte. How do these champagnes complement the Burgundy-focused event?

MGL: We have had the honor of having Salon & Delamotte as official Champagne sponsors of La Paulée for more than ten years. Their supremely elegant Blanc de Blancs Champagnes make for a perfect apéritif wine at the dinners. One could call Champagne a distant cousin of Burgundy; the two regions share a notion of place and style with the elegance of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

Ethos: The Domaine de Montille Dinner is set to be a highlight of the festival. Can you elaborate on what makes this dinner, and its selection of wines, so special?

MGL: The program of events in LA will start off with a bang at Spago with the Domaine de Montille Dinner. It will be an incredible honor to be joined by estate proprietor Etienne de Montille, who has furnished us with an amazing selection of wines directly from his domaine’s cellars in Volnay. That is another thing that is very special at La Paulée — all of the wines being served come directly from the domaines with perfect provenance, which is very important with wine. We can guarantee that it has been stored in ideal condition from the moment it was bottled. 

This dinner will be an incredible tour of de Montille’s vineyard holdings in both white and red. A highlight will be a trio of 2005 Malconsorts (an absolutely top vineyard in the village of Vosne-Romanée), including two parcel selection wines plus an experimental blend of the two which was never commercially released. You will simply never taste that wine again, especially with the person who made it, who will explain why he did the trial and ultimately decided to continue bottling the two parcels separately.

Ethos: La Paulée Off Grid aims to showcase Burgundy’s hidden gems. How do you curate the selection of wines for this event, and what should guests be most excited about?

MGL: In LA, we’ve partnered with star sommelier Taylor Grant to curate and source the wines. The fun thing about the Off Grid is that it offers a complete picture of Burgundy. Most of our events feature the top-end wines which can be quite expensive and rare, and also make up less than ten percent of Burgundy’s total production. While those are of course a pleasure to taste and enjoy, the Off Grid is all about accessibility. You’ll taste Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge from great producers at a fraction of the price of their Premiers and Grands Crus, the salty and crisp wines of Chablis and Petit Chablis, the fleshy Chardonnays of Mâcon, the aromatic and surprisingly complex Gamays of Beaujolais — these are wines that you want to (and can afford to) drink every day, which gives this tasting great appeal. 

Pouring wine.
Courtesy Our Daily Wine

Ethos: With the festival offering a range of events from intimate dinners to large tastings, how do you balance exclusivity with accessibility?

MGL: There is no question that La Paulée is a high-end event but we pride ourselves on offering multiple entry points into Burgundy through the Off Grid tasting and affordable seminars. The program offers something for everyone.

Ethos: The American Express early ticket access and exclusive experiences are a unique aspect of La Paulée. How did this partnership come about, and what does it offer to card members?

MGL: Our relationship with American Express goes back more than ten years, and we are incredibly proud to have the trust and backing of one of the world’s most highly regarded brands. We share core values of relationship-oriented customer service and excellence in everything we do. American Express Card Members enjoy early access to all tickets, as well as exclusive access to certain events and ticket packages at each festival. 

Ethos: Sustainability is a growing concern in the wine industry. How does La Paulée address sustainability in its programming and operations?

MGL: All of our attending growers are conscientious farmers, and many are certified organic and biodynamic. They will be the first to tell you that they have made huge investments in their farming in recent years, both to create more sustainable operations and to battle against the deleterious effects of climate change. On our end, we try to recycle the thousands of bottles that are opened at our events and have switched to compostable disposables at our tastings.

Wine glasses.
Photo courtesy rikkia hughes

Ethos: For someone attending La Paulée for the first time, what advice would you give to maximize their experience?

MGL: Our two signature events are the Grand Tasting and Gala Dinner are both being held on Saturday, March 2, at the Fairmont Miramar, and attending both is the best way to see what La Paulée is all about. The Grand Tasting offers a chance to taste four wines from each of the 30+ attending domaines and really get a sense of the 2021 vintage from a cross-section of the region. Then, at the Gala, we encourage guests to bring a bottle or two (or more!) of Burgundy to the event. Generosity and enthusiasm for Burgundy are the two key aspects of the atmosphere in the room, and a willingness to get up and share your wines is the key to maximizing your experience. The most important part of this experience is how it builds a community of Burgundy lovers at all levels and embraces the spirit of generosity and conviviality.

Ethos: Looking ahead, are there any plans to expand La Paulée to other cities or include other French wine regions in the festival lineup? If so, where?

MGL: The 2025 edition of La Paulée will be a blowout. It is our 25th anniversary and will be hosted in New York as well as one other surprise city to be announced soon. Before then, we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of our Champagne festival La Fête du Champagne this October in New York City and, for the second year in a row, Houston. Passion for great wine is all over the U.S., and we are thrilled to be able to bring our unique experiences to so many different places.

Tickets and more info at the La Paulée website.

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