La Paulee Burgundy Week started in Burgundy, France, in the Village of Meursault in the 1920s. It was a harvest festival, a way to gather with friends and family to celebrate the fruits of a year’s hard labor.
And, if I know the French at all, it was also a way for the producers of Meursault to show why their wines were superior to those of neighboring Burgundy communities.
This year, Kansas City will join top restaurants in New York and San Francisco to participate in La Paulee Burgendy Week.
There are more than 30 restaurants participating on the east and west coast. There is one participating in Kansas City — Tannin Wine Bar Kitchen at 1526 Walnut St.
Tannin’s General Manager Barry Tunnell couldn’t be happier. He is the driving force behind La Paulee coming to Tannin and Kansas City and he’s a huge fan of Burgundy wine.
“I reached out to the folks in New York to see if we could get involved,” Tunnell told me on the final Friday of a very busy Restaurant Week for Tannin.
“Burgundy is a challenge here, so our goal is to make it more accessible,” he said. “The wines can be expensive and sometimes difficult to fully comprehend, but they’re worth the cost and the effort.”
He was still in the process of planning the events when I chatted with him, but this much he knew for sure: Tannin would be serving eight to 10 Burgundies — red and white — by the glass during the event, which runs from Sunday to March 15.
Tunnell is also planning a big Burgundy tasting called “Tour the Terroir,” where as many as 50 or more wines will be available for sampling and then for sale at Gomer’s Midtown.
He’s also putting the finishing touches on a Burgundy Dinner featuring John Payne of Rosenthal Wine Merchants, one of the country’s finest Burgundy importers.
The “Tour the Terroir” tasting will be held at Tannin on Sunday. The Rosenthal dinner, also at Tannin, will be March 13. And, there will be much more, you can count on it.
“This sort of event allows people the chance to taste wines they otherwise wouldn’t,” Tunnell said. “I mean, you’re not going to open up multiple Burgundies for one or two people, but a whole bunch of people can enjoy a whole bunch of Burgundy.”
The event also benefits the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Kansas City, with Tannin donating 50 percent of the ticket price directly to the society.
I asked Tunnell what he loves about Burgundies, and how long his love affair has endured. Tunnell admitted it’s been a long simmering love that ignited into flames with a couple of incredible Burgundy vintages in 1996 and 1999.
“Like most Americans, I started off drinking mainly domestic wines, but my palate and preferences have really changed over the years,” he said. “I had a Burgundy epiphany in tasting the wines from ’96 and ’99, and ever since, I’ve been a big fan of what I call ‘pure’ wines.”
He likes to call them “wines without make-up.”
They might be wines without make-up, but like all classic beauties, Burgundies have great bone structure and true class and elegance. All will be on display in the Crossroads District in the heart of Kansas City at Tannin Wine Bar Kitchen Sunday through March15.
Drop by and have a glass or two, or attend one of the amazing events. For more information, go towww.lapaulee.com/burgundyweek and Tannin Wine Bar’s website
Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.