The Paulée de Paris, now in its 19th year, has become such an event that it is to be held twice this year, on March 10 and 12, at the restaurant Taillevent.
Jointly organized by the restaurant's owners, André Vrinat and his son Jean-Claude, and Odette Kahn, who directs both the quarterly Revue du Vin de France and the monthly Cuisine et Vins de France, the event's purpose is to present a broad sampling of wines from the latest vintage accompanied by a suitable meal.
Last year it drew 180 enthusiasts who strained Taillevent's kitchen. This year, to include more participants, the first session will be open to anyone who wishes to attend and the second will be held under the auspices of Cuisine et Vins de France.
The Paulée is popular not only for the opportunity for a select wine tasting and superb food in one of Paris's most elegant restaurants but also for its organization. Wine lovers of all sorts come, including many Americans, some of whom make a special trip to attend.
They meet other like-minded people from many parts of the world and winegrowers.
Twenty-five wines – red, white and rosé – will be offered from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, the Loire Valley, Alsace, Provence, Beaujolais and the Rhône Valley. Among them will be two mystery wines and at the end new Cognac and Armagnac.
The guests will be invited to rate the wines and compare their results with those of a jury of connoisseurs. There will be prizes for those who come closest. Recently, these have been Americans, more often than not.
It is a pleasant contest for wines such as Beaujolais which are at their best when very young, but it is another matter to judge a great Bordeaux of only a few months' age. Fortunately, 1970 seems to be a very good vintage, especially for red Bordeaux.
One thing no one is likely to underrate is the meal, if the past is any standard. First come various amuse-bouche (taste ticklers), then Belon oysters, suprêmes de sole Curnonsky (fillets of sole folded over a stuffing of pike, lobster and truffles in a white wine sauce), filet de bœuf Lamennais in a truffle sauce with spring vegetables, ballotine de canard (a hot duck pâté), cheeses and to top it all off so that no one need worry about eating for the next few days, vacherin glacé aux framboises (meringue filled with ice cream and raspberries).
The evening, wine and service included, costs 150 francs. For reservations write Taillevant at 15 Rue Lamennais, Paris 8.