Drinking in La Paulée Off-Grid, SF
Wednesday, I was lucky enough to attend the La Paulée Off-Grid tasting in San Francisco, organized by the inimitable trio, Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Cappiello, and Josiah Baldivino, and sponsored by the American Express Invitation Only program. The tasting included wines of Burgundy selected by some of San Francisco’s top sommeliers. Some favorites from San Francisco’s food scene were also present with fine foods from The Slanted Door, and Piperade, cheeses and charcuterie from Andante Dairy, and Del Monte Meat Co, and breads from Bar Tartine.
Today, La Paulée launches the program for La Paulée de San Francisco happening March 12-15, 2014. The occasion will include the celebrated Burgundy Week as well, with restaurants and shops in both NYC and San Francisco participating.
The La Paulée celebration began thanks to the work of Daniel Johnnes, a James Beard Award Winner for Outstanding Wine & Spirits Professional, and Wine Director for Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group. Johnnes started La Paulée de New York in the year 2000 out of his appreciation for the original La Paulée celebrations in Burgundy. The tradition there began as a community event bringing together winemakers, vineyard workers, and family with the wines of the region, and food of the harvest. The event has since expanded to other cities throughout the United States, with an annual rotation of San Francisco, and New York alternating hosting privileges for the large annual festival. La Paulée de New York, and de San Francisco have reached iconic status with the best sommeliers of both cities serving some of the stars of Burgundy. Robert Parker described it as “the tasting/dinner of a lifetime.”
from left: Josiah Baldivino, Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Cappiello
The Off-Grid tasting is designed to bring to the fore the community spirit of the original La Paulée, as well as give a teaser to get people excited for the Winter festivities. Patrick Cappiello has been working with La Paulée almost since its inception, and now serves as Chef Sommelier, also helping select the rest of the sommelier team for La Paulée de New York. As Cappiello explained, With the Off-Grid tasting, “we wanted to design a more inclusive event. Burgundy can be thought of as exclusive, but there is enough Burgundy for everybody.”
Josiah Baldivino, of Michael Mina, worked with Daniel Johnnes at Bar Boulud in New York before moving to San Francisco. In focusing on the West Coast festivities, then, Johnnes and Cappiello chose Baldivino to select sommeliers. “Josiah has been a real asset. He knows the local [SF] community, and has been working with La Paulée for several years. We wanted to tap into talent here, so we’ve relied on Josiah both for his palate and his relationships with people.” Johnnes explained.
Baldivino flashing the sign for West Coast Represent (that also confusingly looks East Coast–well played, Baldivino. Well played.) w Johnnes and Cappiello–I love the playfulness and mutual regard that shows in this photo
Towards these ends, Baldivino selected some of the best sommeliers in San Francisco to design the Off-Grid tasting. Each was assigned a region of Burgundy, including Beaujolais, and Chablis, and asked to select 10-12 bottles celebrating a more affordable price range of wines available through distribution in San Francisco.
For Baldivino, La Paulée Off-Grid has been especially fun to help organize thanks both to the enthusiasm of everyone working the event, and the selection of wines they chose. As Baldivino describes, the tasting offered wines that “are affordable, really good, and from off the beaten path. They’re wines any of us pouring would actually drink at home ourselves.” The list, then, serves as a guide to some of the best approachable, and intriguing wines of one of the most celebrated regions in the world of wine.
Stevie Stacionis, Director of Communications for Corkbuzz Wine Studio in New York City, was selected for the Off-Grid tasting as the sommelier in charge of presenting the Côte de Nuits. As part of the overall program, sommeliers were asked to choose two favorites to present in Sommelier Corner. There Stacionis discussed her appreciation for Régis Bouvier’s 2011 Marsannay, and Frédéric Magnien’s Côte de Nuits-Village 2010 Croix Violette. Listening to Stacionis, it’s clear that stories behind the people, and their regions are part of what Stacionis loves about wine.
After, I ask her to talk to me about her experience selecting wines for the event. “It was a lot of fun getting to think through how to show the range of styles and potential of the area, the Côte de Nuits.” She tells me. As part of the Côte de Or, the limestone ridge that runs through Burgundy, the Côte de Nuits is a well-known wine-producing region. She continues. “The Côte de Nuits is a region that everyone knows. It’s pretty cool to get to ask myself, how do I pick wines that are not obvious, and also pick from areas of it that are lesser known and really high quality.”
Asking Johnnes about what he most enjoys in developing La Paulée, he mentions the people involved. “It is a real honor to see how much time people put in to study these wines for a small three-hour event. It is touching to see them making that kind of commitment.”
To view the just announced La Paulee de San Francisco 2014 program: http://lapaulee.com/programs_tickets.php
To read up on Burgundy Week: http://lapaulee.com/burgundyweek
Thank you to Daniel Johnnes, Patrick Cappiello, and Josiah Baldivino.
Thank you to Stevie Stacionis.
Thank you to Jessica Saraniero, and Alyssa Vitrano.
Thank you to the American Express Invitation Only program.
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