If you love pinot noir and chardonnay -- specifically, the particularly revered varieties which hail from the postage stamp-sized wine-producing region of Burgundy, France -- you may want to buy a lottery ticket today.
That's because this weekend marks the return of that most luxurious of wine-soaked weekends, La Paulée des Neiges, to The Little Nell in Aspen, reprising an event that's been celebrated there every other year since its inaugural fête in 2006.
"It is a Burgundy lover's dream weekend," says Sabato Sagaria, Master Sommelier/ food and beverage director for the hotel. "Where else in the world can you go to dine on food by Daniel Boulud, drink amazing Burgundy and ski with some of the top winemakers in the world, all in a 48-hour period?"
Pairing some of Burgundy's most sought-after winemakers with celebrated chefs, La Paulée des Neiges is an homage to La Paulée de Meursault, the traditional Burgundian festival shared by wine growers and their guests in celebration of the harvest -- which also serves as the inspiration for the annual Boulder Burgundy Festival , organized by Master Sommelier and Boulder Wine Merchant owner Brett Zimmerman.
"La Paulée is a great way to spend more intimate time with the producers," offers Zimmerman. The crowds there are much smaller than the San Francisco and New York events, he notes, "which allows for people to interact with the winemakers."
The festivities kick off today, January 18 at Element 47, the Little Nell's newly remodeled (and re-named restaurant), with the Collectors Dinner, the most ballerific event of the weekend. Chef Boulud and Element 47 chef Robert McCormick will prepare an intimate, multi-course feast designed to complement rare wines sourced directly from the winemakers' private cellars -- and at $2,000 per person, you can see why winning Lotto might be the only way you can afford to partake. But if you can come up with the scratch, rest assured that you will be sipping on some of the greatest Burgundy in the world, from such venerable producers as Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Domaine Jean Grivot, Domaine Georges Roumier and Maison Champy.
Even more wine-fueled fun is lined up for day two. Saturday morning provides an opportunity to ski with many of the winemakers, after which is La Paulée's flagship event: lunch at the private Aspen Mountain Club, which is normally open only to members and their guests. Unique menus created by chefs Boulud and McCormick will be paired with older vintage wines from each attending producer -- and in the true spirit of La Paulée, guests are encouraged to bring wines from their personal cellars to be shared along with those of the winemakers. The cost of the luncheon is $750 -- and that doesn't include the skiing.
"It is not an inexpensive ticket," admits Zimmerman. "But the reward is always in the glass. Guests will have the opportunity to taste some amazing wines -- and will certainly drink more in the way of great wine than the cost of the ticket -- especially at the lunch. People tend to bring out some pretty amazing wines to share."
"For us, it is a tremendous amount of fun and huge honor to be able to welcome these leaders in the food and wine world into our restaurant and showcase their passion in an idyllic setting," continues Sagaria. "In addition to all the winemakers, we have some great sommelier friends like Brett [Zimmerman], Bobby Stuckey and Matthew Mather from Frasca Food and Wine and Dustin Wilson (formerly of the Little Nell, now at New York City's Eleven Madison Park) from around the country flying in to assist with wine service."
Needless to say, availability for these spectacular shindigs is extremely limited -- but if you think you can swing the cost of the wine events, there's at least one discount involved: The Little Nell is offering a special 25 percent off deal on rooms to guests attending the event, starting tonight.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.lapaulee.com/aspen.
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