You know the harvest is well and truly over, and wines are safely in barrel when it is time for the Paulee de Meursault. I snapped this just before we sat down to the annual lunch in the cellars of the Chateau de Meursault last Monday, following the Hospices de Beaune's annual auction of their new vintage's wines in barrel . Philippe Ballot-Millot, President of the event, was our kind host.
The village of Meursault has turned la Paulée, the name in this region for the end of harvest party, into a rather special communal event. It all began in 1932 when Burgundy wines were not selling well. Yes, that really was the case, hard to believe now! Leading grower, Comte Lafon, suggested that all the growers from the village should get together, with their families and guests, among whom would be potential buyers, for a celebratory lunch. Each family would bring its best bottles to share at this banquet. There were 60 people round that first,convivial table. This year there were 700.
After 6 courses, more wines poured by growers and their friends than you can possibly keep up with, a few speeches, and a great deal of singing, people are usually very ready to embrace each other, swear everlasting fidelity to Meursault's glorious white wines, and sing about being proud to be Burgundian while twirling their napkins enthusiastically.
So successful has this event become that now buyers and wine connoisseurs from all over the world vie for an invitation. The participants in Meursault’s lunch rarely rise from the table, except to go into a cellar to do some tasting, before dusk and sometimes a good deal later.