La Paulee Advice Sought (Grand Tasting)

Looking for some advice from the Paulee experts. I’m very much looking forward to the 2016 Grand Tasting as (i) an opportunity to taste a vintage I seem to have preference for and (ii) to taste many producers/labels in an efficient manner to help me discover and learn. However, I am wondering what my strategy should be / should I plan for any producers to run out of tastings over the few hours. And any tips to preserving my tongue/sense of palate?

I am only drinking reds. I have tiered up the producers, but I do not necessarily need to go in order. There are also some producers that I hope taste the entire range of, for comparative purposes (for example, I’d love to taste the full range of Duband, Hudellot-Noellat, Gouges, Lignier and Comte Liger). There are producers I would like to try but am not practically in position to purchase/source (Comte Liger, Mugneret-Gibourg). Producers who I am curious to try the range (Bouchard) or Producers I have identified a few bottles I would like to try (Clerget, Jadot, Heitz-Lochardet).

I frankly could spend the entire time just on the producers I want to try the full range of and wonder how my tongue would fair post that. But not sure if those producers would love me hanging around, whether I can maintain my space – and whether that even makes sense with these other producers I am legitimately curious about.

My goal for the tasting is perhaps obvious, to (i) get a firm sense of producer style and (ii) identify villages that resonate more with me that others. Perhaps not the ideal format for doing both (i) and (ii)? And should change the order so as to taste more comfortably or ensure bottles to taste remain?


Sounds like you have a pretty good plan already. Prioritize, say, the top 5 producers you don’t want to miss, and do those first. Looking at the list of producers, there is really only one that I would guess might pour out early: Liger-Belair. I would hit them early (or first). Then Mugneret-Gibourg.

Don’t limit yourself only to producers you think you can afford to buy, this is a chance to try those producers you may never have in your cellar (at least that’s my interest).

You don’t have to rush, there really is time to get a lot of tastes in. Get a pour, back away (if there are people waiting, otherwise you can move slightly to side and make sure there is open access for the next person). Taste, take notes if you do that, spit (critical! or you will be plastered when the tasting is over). Fortunately, Paulee puts out spit buckets on the high tables scattered around the room. Go back and get the next taste. You don’t have to feel obligated to taste an entire range, I will often skip the lowest end wines if there are more than a few, or not really interested in them. Don’t be shy about asking for what you want (graciously), you paid for the ticket. Try to follow your plan of attack, but you will often see a table that’s mostly empty, and can take advantage of the lull to go there and taste, then return to your list.

Take some time between tastes to let your palate recover. Take some breaks and have some food (there will be excellent small bites all around the room).

The list of wines is posted on the Paulee web site, you can use that to see what will be available to taste. A few don’t-miss wines for me would be Hudelot’s RSV, Liger-Belair Aux Reignots (and everything), Lafon Santenots du Milieu, Gibourg everything, Drouhin Beze. Really if you are just focusing on reds, you should be able to taste everything in the room. Don’t ignore some of the reds from predominantly white producers (Boillot Caillerets, for example).

I’m really disappointed not to be there this year, I really like 2016. Hope you’ll report back on your experience, and the wines.

I typically taste both whites and reds. I probably get to about 70-80 percent of the producers, but I don’t taste all the wines of everyone. And, I spit (well maybe not the Hudelot-Noellat RSV, but pretty religiously) and take breaks for water, food and chats with friends.

I usually have or develop an A list for whites and an A list for reds. I do the A list for whites first (these wines have no tannins and with spitting, I can get through these pretty fresh) and then the A list for reds. Then, I go to other producers.

I make some exceptions for the fact that New Yorkers never get anywhere on time and the first half hour often is less crowded than the rest of the tasting (except at the end).

I encourage you to taste producers you do not know. Some of these may be the up and coming superstars but you may not have heard of them yet. For example, you mention Clerget and Heitz-Lochardet but have you ever tasted Maison MC Thiriet. I had not heard of her until last summer right before I went to Burgundy and got to try one of her wines at a restaurant. It was very good. I don’t know if these wines are in the US, but I want to try them because they could be well priced. My guess is that there are other gems in wineries that I do not know. So, my suggestion is to go around tasting unknown producers after you get through your A list even if you only try one wine per producer.

I will have a few friends coming up from DC and we generally consult with each other from time to time to see what another of us has tasted. Two years ago I found out a couple of good producers from doing this but unfortunately nobody told me about Duroche until after the tasting.

And, don’t miss the whites from Bernard Moreau and Leflaive and the reds from Comte Lafon.

And SPIT, SPIT, SPIT. Plus water and food breaks.

Appreciate the thoughts. If I may ask, what are the top 5 whites you think I should be sure to try? I tend to be allergic to whites, but tasting the best of the best in the name of knowledge makes sense. Thanks!

Armand Heitz is going to be there.
I wouldn’t miss these wines. Heitz-Lochardet.
They are real winners in 2016.
Thibault Clergets wines also rock.
Start with the ones hard to find.
Liger Belair and Mugneret Gibourg are great places to start.
Hudelots RSV is my all time favorite to try after that.
Have a great time. It is fascinating.

Bernard Moreau, Leflaive, Bouchard, Drouhin, Lafon, Heitz-Lochardet, Christian Moreau (note I have visited all of these but Leflaive and wish I could taste there). Hard to cut it further and I really also would never pass up an opportunity to taste Chevalier Montrachet.