In today's world, it's hard to find anything sacred enough that it escapes the lens of irony. Every icon is fair game for skeptics. Which is why it's so remarkable that there is literally no arguing that Domaine de la Romanée- Conti is the world's most esteemed, most sought-after, most legendary wine. Expert oenophiles refer to it only with breathless reverence. Publication after publication has an account of "the time I tasted DRC" that ends with the author struggling to come to terms with his unbelievable luck. Dissenters do not exist.
So there is consensus that the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti are the world's most pure expression of Burgundy. It is also commonly accepted that the reason for the astronomical cost and extreme collectibility of the wine is the combination of scarcity and quality. Not only are the wines from this producer the ultimate pinot noirs and chardonnay, there simply isn't very much of them. And as the wines age and are gradually consumed, the older vintages obviously become more and more desirable. In our September Rare & Fine Wine Auction, we are honored to present a full assorted case of the hugely sought-after 1990 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines.
In the way of old world wines, part of DRC's pedigree comes from its epic history. The DRC vineyards have been planted since early in the second millennium. In 12th and 13th century France, it was common practice for wealthy landowners to donate land to their local abbey in exchange for prayers of intercession to save their souls. But apparently God wasn't choosy, and the nobles would give up only their least productive acreage. The Benedictine monks, however, had the time and patience to experiment with the land, and they discovered that while most crops don't grow in poor, rocky soil, it's the perfect environment for stress-loving grapes.
In this manner, the land that is now the vineyards of Domaine de la Romanée- Conti was given to the monks of the Abbaye Saint-Vivant de Vergy by the Duchesse de Bourgogne Alix de Vergy in 1232. The monks applied their developing expertise, and over the next 500 years, the vineyards gained renown. The Romanée vineyard already had a large measure of fame in 1760 when it caught the interest of the mistress of King Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour. Unfortunately for her, she was embroiled in a long-standing feud with the Prince of Conti, who, when he heard the Madame wanted the vineyard, snapped it up for twice its value, and added his name to it to mark his territory. Romanée-Conti was born. Aubert de Villaine, the public face and co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, cites this extensive history as one of the reasons for his wine's excellence. He gives credit to the centuries of monks and farmers who fine-tuned the production of excellent wines from this particular plot of land.
Louis Françoise de la Bourbon, the Prince of Conti
Of the DRC wines, those from the seven Grand Crus vineyards are the most sought after, and those from the two Monopole vineyards, Romanée-Conti and La Tâche, are the mostly highly valued of the Grand Crus. Bottles of Romanée-Conti often carry a price tag as much as six times those from the other vineyards. The case of DRC being sold in The September Rare & Fine Wine Auction includes one bottle of Romanée-Conti and three of La Tâche. The 1990 La Tâche is widely agreed to be one of the very best expressions of the vineyard, and is still drinking relatively young. Both the La Tâche and Romanée-Conti from 1990 have been found to still have considerable aging potential.
Hyperbole is so commonplace in modern discourse that we barely notice it. But when it is repeated with the unmitigated consistency with which it is seen in descriptions of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, it's impossible not to stop and listen. There is still a place where we can agree to give excellence its due. This is wine from, and for, the ages.
Content created by the Leland Little editorial team