Wine lovers braving New York’s icy streets during the “polar vortex” of late January were rewarded with a superb showing of wines and producers from the Rhone Valley.
Johnnes specialises in multi-day events inspired by long-established old world festivals. The best-known of these is La Paulée, a week-long celebration of Burgundy. Then there is La Fête du Champagne, and La Tablée.
The inaugural Tablée (a term used in Côte Rôtieto refer to the communal meal that celebrates the end of harvest) opened with a series of extremely rare tastings.
The first, a dinner for twelve, focused on the wines of cult Côte Rôtie producer Gentaz-Dervieux. Marius Gentaz’s last vintage was 1993, but here the lucky dozen were treated to ultra-rare bottles of 13 vintages, spanning 1975 to 1992.
The following day featured a lunch centered on Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Domaine Saint-Préfert, as well as three “Réserve des Celestins” bottlings (2010, 2005, and 2000) of the late legend Henri Bonneau.
Heading into the weekend were discussion seminars on Côte Rôtie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape with top producers, as well as a huge Saturday afternoon tasting of multiple appellations from the Northern and Southern Rhone, with over 25 producers on hand to pour.
That evening, as the cold spell finally started to break, the grand Tablée dinner was held at a beautiful old red-brick building in Brooklyn. Some 200 people enjoyed old vintages brought by the producers and, following tradition, unique bottles that they brought themselves to share. This meant that delicious old wines from some of the finest producers who didn’t attend this year— Chave, Allemand and Rayas, to name a few— ended up being present after all.
Toward the end of the dinner, after a few days of hard living in New York, Stéphane Ogier of Côte Rôtie’s Domaine Stéphane Ogier told me, “We don’t have anything like this in France, bringing so many Rhone producers together. It feels like something that could only happen in New York.”