La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

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La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #1  Postby andrew messenger » March 10th 2013, 10:59am

Let me start this by saying I was very disappointed. My instincts told me that if you are not at the right table you will not get to drink really well. I tried through multiple phone calls to get good positioning, but to no avail. The people at my table were very nice, but I was bringing relatively great burgundies with age and anticipated the same in return, which Daniel was aware of. Don C from the BB was there and it was a pleasure to meet him. A couple of winemakers were at our table and they were a pleasure to talk with. When you are not in the in crowd you don't get the good stuff. A little of the good stuff wandered our way, but only 10% at most of what the in-crowd gets. Daniel and his staff were lovely, but for me they did not deliver. I wandered the room and exchanged some of my wine for other wines of similar caliber, but too much effort went into doing this and it made me feel a little like a beggar.

Then there is the issue of cost. $1500 to attend is not cheap. The food while very good and prepared by great chefs, should have knocked my socks off. The best wine they poured a nice glass of was Jadot 1990 Beaune Clos Ursulles. They rest was good, but not $1500 good. For my wife and myself $3000 would buy a meal at the best Manhattan has to offer with $2500 to spend on wine. The numbers for this event do not add up. For a little more I could spend a week in Burgundy including food and airfare and taste wine at many Domaines.

I am not sorry I attended, it was a life lesson, and I thought it should be on my bucket list. In the current format I will not revisit the experience.

BTW, the Grand Tasting of 2010 burgundy was worth the money and very enjoyable.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #2  Postby Diane Kessler » March 10th 2013, 11:35am

Hi Andy - nice to see you here, but I'm sorry to read of your disappointing experience.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #3  Postby PaulJ » March 10th 2013, 11:42am

Good to know as I plan to attend in SF next year.

Anyone know if SF is different or if the challenge is the same for the Gala dinner?
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #4  Postby P. ONeill » March 10th 2013, 11:55am

Interesting. What did you bring? And when you say that the staff "didn't deliver", what were you looking for them to deliver that they didn't?
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #5  Postby L e o F r o k i c » March 10th 2013, 11:55am

Out of my curiosity, what did you bring and what did the rest of your table bring?
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #6  Postby Dale Bowers » March 10th 2013, 11:56am

Am I to understand that for $1500 a seat you have to bring your own wine ? Or is this in addition to what Daniel was pouring? If Daniel was also pouring, did they pour different wines at different tables?
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #7  Postby andrew messenger » March 10th 2013, 12:22pm

I brought a 1969 Prieur Volnay Santenots 1971 Leroy Echezeaux, 1979 Dujac Clos de La Roche and a Magnum of 1983 Burklin Wolfe Eiswein. This was for the three of. Don C who was at my table brought a 1990 Gros Richborg, Trapet the winemaker poured a 2000 Chambertin, there were some older whites that were interesting. I didn't see much else that was that interesting.

P...I mentioned several times that I was bringing old reds,even perhaps a mag of DRC, to the organizers. I then had a lengthy discussion about the type of table I would like to sit at if possible. I was assured I would be at a really appropriate table. This simply did not happen.

Dale, you do not have to bring any wine, this is optional. Some people bring a lot of wine, some none.

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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #8  Postby Nick Ryan » March 10th 2013, 12:38pm

LOL. Given the "in crowd's" willingness to buy, sell, and fawn over staggering quantities of fake Burgundy and the purveyors of same, consider yourself lucky.

Also, that's hilarious that the best wine they poured for $1500 a head was a 1990 Jadot Beaune. What a swindle.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #9  Postby Jonathan Favre » March 10th 2013, 12:56pm

Hey Andrew! Sorry I didn't run into you over the weekend and last night as I would have definitely shared several nice things with you..... Sorry your expectations were not met and that others around you didn't help to make your dinner better! There are many fun and generous people/friends that attend the Paulee weekend that make the whole weekend a must for me - I try my best to meet/share with all of them as my life is richer because of it. CHEERS
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #10  Postby scott c » March 10th 2013, 12:59pm

Just out of curiosity/to be contrarian, what exactly did you expect the organizers to do for you? You are hardly the only one out of close to 400 dinner attendees who brought old reds - that's kind of the point. In theory, it shouldn't (and doesn't) matter which table you are at. I think your beef is with your table-mates, not Daniel, Bethany, etc.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #11  Postby Richard T r i m p i » March 10th 2013, 1:02pm

Andrew, I get where you're coming from. I attended the past 2 Gala Dinners, but not this year. For my wife and I, $3K per year is nothing to smirk at. And that's with the full understanding that you will not get "great wines" other than those you bring or that others share. The "in-crowd" tables aren't 100% guaranteed Burg nirvana. Even DRC can be corked or flawed and you often don't get adequate quality time (or in past years, sufficient glassware) to appreciate a number of wines that deserve an entire evening's contemplation. It's an excellent party with some extremely generous attendees. To some extent, it's what you make of it. Jon and Don Cornutt are both great fun, wherever your table. Although young, that 2000 Trapet Chambertin is a darn nice wine.

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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #12  Postby dcornutt » March 10th 2013, 1:24pm

It was nice to meet Andrew. I was at the other end of the table which was a long way.

We had a few really nice things and tried to send them up.
We should have corraled you down to our end.

I understand your point of view however. I came for the first time in a while this year with about 6 friends from ATL. We made it a party along with Dominic from Montreal and his sommelier friend.

Our sommelier was fantastic. She is the new wine director for David Chang. The eiswein was out of sight btw. Hope you enjoyed the Jean Gros Richebourg.
We also sent up a 2000 Corton Reynards from Leroy and a few other goodies. The only person around you that I knew was Craig Ganzer at the end of your table.

Anyway, we should have moved you down with us. The Jobards were nice but we corraled Phillip Proust from Bouchard and he brought a ton of stuff over. He is major fun. Most all the wines were young but all outstanding! Baby Jesus 99 out of magnum was in a good place! 1993 La Romanee was wonderful.

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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #13  Postby WvanGorp » March 10th 2013, 1:33pm

I totally understand your feeling. The same thing happened to me several years ago. I went to La Paulee, and had several email exchanges with the organizers about some of my friends who were attending and had asked to be seated with or near them. I had planned to bring a fine Burgundy, but when a friend of mine saw what I was bringing, he whispered to me "If you bring that, you will be humiliated. Most people will bring legendary wines." So, I tossed the bottle I was planning on bringing, and brought a couple of bottles of DRC.

When I got there, to my surprise, I was not seated with any of my friends, but at a "no man's land" table. The wines the others brought were ordinary Burgundy or new world pinot wines. My wines stood out like sore thumbs. The others at my table gladly helped themselves while I drank their Oregon pinot.

The food was basically hotel food. I'm not slamming it, just describing it. Just too many people--its like they are cooking for a hotel banquet. The idea that Michel Troisgros or Daniel Boulud is preparing your food in an artisanal way is myth.

Also, to me, it was just too much of a good thing. I actually went away thinking the oeno-orgy disrespected the wines. Each wine was better than the next. One legend was upped by a better legend.

That was the last La Paulee I attended. I so respect the organizers, and the idea. Daniel J. does an amazing job and I'm really glad they do this. It just isn't for me. I'd prefer a mag of La Tache over a nice dinner with 2-4 people, and for less money.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #14  Postby Nate Simon » March 10th 2013, 1:36pm

Sorry, but $1500 for a BYO?
Was P.T. Barnum the maître d'?
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Post #15  Postby Boris Palameta » March 10th 2013, 1:36pm

Thanks for sharing your cautionary tale. I have never attended La Paulee. I considered going this year, but by the time the American Express exclusive purchasing period was over, the vertical tastings were sold out. The gala dinner sounds like a potentially great experience, but as I would have been going alone, it also seemed like a bit of $1500 crap shoot. Which left the grand tasting, no doubt a great and informative event, but in the end not worth the trip for me by itself.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #16  Postby alan weinberg » March 10th 2013, 2:32pm

I went once and loved meeting people I had only encountered on the web, chet kern among them. But it was too frantic and when I had to dump a great Bonnes Mares just to try quickly another wine, I felt it disrespectful to these great wines. I didnt get to pay enough attention to the wines and it was all way too rushed.
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Post #17  Postby Izzy Nosnik » March 10th 2013, 2:47pm

Thank you all for justifying my absence in this year and in others. I think Wilfred said it best... I'd rather drink my mag of La Tache with a group of 2-4 over a nice dinner.
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Post #18  Postby Robert.Fleming » March 10th 2013, 2:52pm

alan weinberg wrote:I went once and loved meeting people I had only encountered on the web, chet kern among them. But it was too frantic and when I had to dump a great Bonnes Mares just to try quickly another wine, I felt it disrespectful to these great wines. I didnt get to pay enough attention to the wines and it was all way too rushed.
alan

That's my experience with almost all gatherings larger than 4-6 people.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #19  Postby M Kelly » March 10th 2013, 3:04pm

Andrew,

Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it. I can imagine its tough when you don't have a crew together. If you give it another chance, let Favre and I know!

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Post #20  Postby Ken V » March 10th 2013, 3:34pm

Never been to this big NYC La Paulee, but Antonio's La Festa del Barolo is based on this event. The first La Festa (2011) was quite enjoyable, but the dinner was less than half that price ($700 per), and I was sitting with my long-time Barolo group. I would say that is key. Put together your own group, then ask for a table for your group. Then you can all agree about the type of wines. There were only 8 people to a table at La Festa (including 2 winemakers at ours). Sounds like there were more at La Paulee from Don's description.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #21  Postby Stuart BeauneHead Niemtzow » March 10th 2013, 4:11pm

Robert.Fleming wrote:
alan weinberg wrote:I went once and loved meeting people I had only encountered on the web, chet kern among them. But it was too frantic and when I had to dump a great Bonnes Mares just to try quickly another wine, I felt it disrespectful to these great wines. I didnt get to pay enough attention to the wines and it was all way too rushed.
alan

That's my experience with almost all gatherings larger than 4-6 people.


+1 on both posts. Great to meet "webbed" people at such events, but, like Bob too many people (and for me, more than 7-8 special wines), and I'd rather skip such events. Sensory overload and intellectual frustration. Disrespecting great wines by putting them in gladiator extravaganzas...is a real turn off for me. Even if I spit and take notes, and appreciate the generosity involved, I always regret going...other than to meet people. (Worse than creosote!)
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #22  Postby Eric Ifune » March 10th 2013, 4:13pm

I was in town, but not for Burgundy. I was at a Madeira event. Don't think anyone was disappointed in our little get together.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #23  Postby dcornutt » March 10th 2013, 4:52pm

Ken V wrote:Never been to this big NYC La Paulee, but Antonio's La Festa del Barolo is based on this event. The first La Festa (2011) was quite enjoyable, but the dinner was less than half that price ($700 per), and I was sitting with my long-time Barolo group. I would say that is key. Put together your own group, then ask for a table for your group. Then you can all agree about the type of wines. There were only 8 people to a table at La Festa (including 2 winemakers at ours). Sounds like there were more at La Paulee from Don's description.

About 40 people per table.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #24  Postby Ken V » March 10th 2013, 5:41pm

dcornutt wrote:
Ken V wrote:Never been to this big NYC La Paulee, but Antonio's La Festa del Barolo is based on this event. The first La Festa (2011) was quite enjoyable, but the dinner was less than half that price ($700 per), and I was sitting with my long-time Barolo group. I would say that is key. Put together your own group, then ask for a table for your group. Then you can all agree about the type of wines. There were only 8 people to a table at La Festa (including 2 winemakers at ours). Sounds like there were more at La Paulee from Don's description.

About 40 people per table.

Huh? How and why would anyone put 40 people on a table? 8-round is probably the max for real conversation. Even 10 or 12 on a rectangular table leads to separated ends. I guess they just want to pack as many people in as possible. Lends some credence to Andrew's complaint.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #25  Postby andrew messenger » March 10th 2013, 6:00pm

Ken, I think they are trying to emulate the La Paulee de Meusault with these long skinny tables. They certainly are not conducive to talking, except for the person directly in front of you. Also Don who was at the other end of my table might as well have been at another table.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #26  Postby paul bortin » March 10th 2013, 6:28pm

Nice wines Andrew. However people have to realize that you are in a room full of heavy lumber, some of the heaviest in fact and that a top wine from the likes of DRC or Rousseau etc., from a good vintage is the key to maxing out your Paulee experience IMO.

Larry sitting next to me brought a Savigny, two 2004 reds from average producers that were green and a mediocre 2006. Jim sitting across from me had 2001 Jayer Cros and 1993 Mugnier moose.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #27  Postby andrew messenger » March 10th 2013, 6:35pm

Paul, just like in real estate location, location, location is the most important. Without that you can be the best house on the block, which isn't good for you overall.
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Post #28  Postby JKim » March 10th 2013, 6:40pm

Just curious, if you have a crew of Burgheads of say a dozen give or take, can you ask the organizers to sit all of you together?
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Post #29  Postby paul bortin » March 10th 2013, 6:52pm

andrew messenger wrote:Paul, just like in real estate location, location, location is the most important. Without that you can be the best house on the block, which isn't good for you overall.

You were in the Location, la Paulee Gala Dinner attended by Aubert d V, C roumier, JM Fourrier and some of the top collectors in the world. You have 4 people out of 400 sitting next to you.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #30  Postby WvanGorp » March 10th 2013, 8:28pm

You can ASK (as I did; as Andrew did) but in our cases, it didn't work.

One memory I have is of Robert Parker being at the event when I was there--when we were on friendly terms. I went up to Bob with my bottle of DRC Richebourg in hand, to offer him a taste/glass. I remember his reply. "Normally, I'd jump at the chance to taste that, but tonight with so many legends, I just have to say no."

I concluded that it really wasn't my scene.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #31  Postby jcoley3 » March 10th 2013, 8:35pm

Wow. Regardless of the wines, this sounds like an easy pass. I would rather have some say over what I tasted and who I met. Mitch Hersh put together a 2-day event a few years ago that was much more my style as there were actual themes and more serious organization.

This kind of free-for-all makes more sense in Burgundy itself.
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Post #32  Postby Paul Jaouen » March 11th 2013, 5:53am

Easy pass for me. I had two terrific dinners with guys in town for La Paulee on Wednesday and Friday. I would much rather do an eight people dinner with great wine that we bring at 1/10th of the cost of that gala dinner.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #33  Postby dcornutt » March 11th 2013, 6:07am

JKim wrote:Just curious, if you have a crew of Burgheads of say a dozen give or take, can you ask the organizers to sit all of you together?

Yes. In general, I think Daniel, Bethany, Shelley, et al try to do this if at all possible.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #34  Postby Mark Golodetz » March 11th 2013, 6:14am

I have very mixed feelings after going to a La Paulee. It was a great experience, but it's a noisy, frantic evening. The wines are superb, the food very good (amazingly good considering the number of diners) and it's a chance to catch up with old friends. It's also a mega competitive night, and a chance to share bottles of great interest and value. The problem is that there were so many goodies around, that you do stupid things like pour away La Tache 1972 because somebody offers you an old Musigny. The number of extraordinary wines which are lost, poured or passed over is horrific. Sadly, there is far too much wine and it's hard to appreciate everything in that one crazy night. You try everything from the humble to the majestic, and at the end you can't remember any of them, and your notes have regressed from the neat to Rorchach ink blots, and later are utterly indecipherable.
At the end of the evening, I staggered out looking for the loo, and instead found myself in a small room where the corked wines had been taken. DRCs, Leroys a Jayer or two, plus incredible and lesser name wines which would be prized if I opened them even for a special occasion. Also there, were the Cote de Beaunes from lesser vintages, and nice drinking wines from good negotiants. In other words, exactly the kind of wines served at La Paulee. All corked...wish I believed in screw tops.

Like many other New Yorkers, I went to a simpler dinner with some beautiful wines, and left feeling incredibly happy. For me, a chance to linger over some lovely wines beats the scrum of the La Paulee. But I missed it, and have been hearing from friends how good it was this year. It has been many years, and I think I will do another, but probably a little more wisely and slowly than the first time.
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Re: La Paulee 2013 NYC Gala Dinner-Lessons Learned

Post #35  Postby dcornutt » March 11th 2013, 6:42am

Some of my personal lessons from going to this event several times.

1. Lots of fantastic wine is going to be poured and then poured out. If you are wanting to have an extremely contemplative bottle poured, save it for one of the small dinners with a few guys. It will
be a waste at the the big event unless you are willing to forgo other experiences. If you are extremely wealthy and own a ton of great bottles, this won't be so important.

2. Bring excellent wines you will enjoy at your table and then be happy with anything else that comes around or you are willing to chase down. There will always be something. We had 1971 Lafon Meursault Perrieres and 1985 Dujac Clos de la Roche both cellar direct and amazing. I don't need DRC at this event although it is a joy to taste. Enjoy the people. It might be your only time to see them. There will always be more great wine in the future. BTW, sometimes wines surprised. We had a 1983 Rene Engel Clos Vougeot that was close to the best wine I tried all night. It was our wine and it was magic! (N.B. Andrew. I wished I got a chance to give you some of this personally. I did to the Jobards. That was my fault for not coming over. It was a 750 and didn't last long. )

3.Understand that it is a Paulee which is a party. The finances of this evening will not make sense no matter how you slice it. Don't even try. (I drilled this into the heads of my 6 friends from ATL who initially made the fatal mistake of thinking that all the wines should be supplied for that price. It is a Paulee by definition. If you try to justify the price, you will never attend. ) In order to enjoy it, you have to surround yourself with like minded souls and just enjoy the experience. It is an amazing experience. Festive and friendly. Very much like the Paulee de Meursault in many ways which I have attended once.

Hope this helps some who might consider going in the future. It can be a great event. You just have to have your expectations met. That requires some mental planning or if you are lucky, knowing the right folks. FWIW.
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