By: Nicole Campbell

Napkins waving, the crowd boisterously sang, over and over again, “Je suis fierrrr, je suis fierrrr, je suis fier d’etre Bourgignon”.

I am haunted by this song. It swirls in my head, never too far from consciousness. Sometimes I’ll hum it to myself, walking in time to the beat. Other times, I’ll vocalize it, loudly, and maybe in the shower. I can’t help it, I am proud to be Burgundian- despite this being my first trip to the region and my train speeding ever forward to Bordeaux.

That is the infectiousness of the Paulée de Meursault.

Every third Monday of November, 800 delighted guests, cram into Chateau de Meursault. Delighted for a number of reasons. Firstly, that they got a ticket in the first place. Thousands and thousands vie for few spots (and I got in, how?!).  Secondly, that their precious ticket gets them into Burgundy’s best party.

Literally shoulder to shoulder, growers, negotiants, locals and lucky wine tourists toast- again and again and again- the culmination of harvest and the end of the Hospice de Beaune weekend. As one local told me, after Paulee it is winter.

I can easily see how life after the Paulee seems dreary. It is pegged as a lunch, but with the first guests leaving at 7 pm it defies such stuffy meal titles. A full working day of eating and drinking, it is a feast like no other.

But the food, although excellent, is not the star of the show. Nor is the band, even with their super chouette pompom bow-ties and rousing enthusiasm- perhaps fueled by their always full glasses? Nothing, not even lobster and foie gras, can hold a corkscrew to the wines.

The Paulée celebrates Burgundy’s finest wines, of which there are no shortage. Guests bring the best of their own bottles- it’s not uncommon for one person to arrive with 6- to drink and share with friends, neighbours and strangers.

An exercise in liquid one-upmanship, I was warned to sip small, as it only gets better. With no spitting allowed- it is the year’s best party after all- many a heart-stopping wine hits the bucket. Although it is heresy to dump a glass of 92 Premier Cru, what is one to do when a 64 Grand Cru, is offered with a wink?

It seems impossible to capture the conviviality of the event, what I humbly decreed “the ultimate celebration of life” at hour 8- perhaps after that dram of scotch from an-all-too-friendly Scotsman. As I mercilessly gurgle superlatives, pictures tell a much better story.

The Chateaus Caves.
The calm.
The storm.
Close company.
And then there was wine: 92 Jadot Beaune Greves magnum.
Jadot 91 Corton-Charlemagne.
We brought a little Bordeaux (gasp!): 89 Ducru… before it was mercilessly poached from our table.
92 Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint-Jaqaues #swoon
We found some Canadians!
Lobster on the move.
A little beef after lobster and fish and foie. Before cheese and dessert. #whoa
85 Beaune Greves, thumbs up.
78 clos vougeot.

71 Hermitage kindly poured by Alder Yarrow of @vinography.

Totally sober.
Err a dizzy Clos St Denis 1964.
A dizzier Joseph Drouhin Beaune Greves 59 (!). About that sober thing?!

Napkins wave.

Nicole Campbell is a wine blogger and
all around worker bee for Lifford Wine Agency, Ontario’s
largest supplier of wine to the hospitality industry. Currently living in
Bordeaux, getting first hand experience as a stagiaire for negotiant
Compagnie Medocaine. Follow her on twitter @liffordnicole.