© Photographer Thomas Schauer
On February 10, the Paulée of New York will take place once again. The festivities will begin with a wine auction; the next day there is another auction and vertical tastings, and seminars conducted by some of Burgundy's more important winemakers, who are coming to show the current vintage and some of the best wines from past vintages. But the main event, the part of the three-day celebration of all that is good in Burgundy is the gala dinner on Saturday, February 12. It is the authentic recreation of the Paulée de Meursault.
The Paulée de Meursault was originally a simple, informal meal prepared by Cistercian monks for Burgundy's vineyard workers at the end of harvest. It was cooked in a large sauté pan, called a poile, which supposedly lent the name to the meal. In the 1920s, the visionary mayor of the town of Meursault, Jules Lafon, decided that along with an auction to raise money for local hospices and to generate more enthusiasm for his village's wines, he would hold a Paulée of his own at his family's winery, Domaine des Comtes Lafon. The entire village participated, with producers bringing ancient vintages out of their cellars to share with neighbors, guests, and loyal customers who made the voyage to join in the bacchanal. The Paulée was so well liked that it became an annual part of the three main events that are held in Burgundy in November, called the Trois Glorieuses. (The others are an additional gala dinner and a wine auction.) The website for La Paulée de New York calls the Paulée "the world's largest BYOB party."