DRC 2010

POSTED ON 20/04/2013

It’s no surprise that the tasting of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s latest release at Corney & Barrow’s Tower of London offices took place in hushed tones. Yes, there’s the reverence accorded to what the wine exchange Liv-ex calls ‘the new darling of the fine wine trade’, recently awarded number one spot in its Top 10 global fine wine brands.

There’s a sense too that in tough economic times, the astonishing prices commanded by the domaine are somewhat surreal. But the reverence is as much for the quiet authority of Aubert de Villaine, the man behind DRC.

In the CellarIn the Cellar

A natural vigneron, de Villaine’s scholarly demeanour is born out of a respect for the extraordinary power of nature. Becoming biodynamic was a reflection of that faith. So much so that in talking about the 2010 vintage, he eschews easy positives in favour of the specific personality of the year. Dubbed ‘great’ by the media and the trade, 2010 was, for him, ‘difficult’.

‘It’s not 2009, 2005 or 1999 with their solar expression but more Burgundian in that it shows the exoticism that exists in the vineyards’. The twinkle in his mind’s eye reflects on medieval times and the monks whose ascetic lives were occasionally featherbedded by exotic rewards.

De Villaine’s charisma aside, that the DRC has become the ultimate collector’s wine is the result of painstaking work, the exceptional terroir of Vosne-Romanée from which its six great pinot noirs spring and the limited quantities made. With an average of 7310 cases of red wine, and just 430 of Romanée-Conti itself, the greatest of them all, DRC’s red Burgundies are the ultimate limited editions that wine lovers and investors covet.

Compare that with last year’s darling, Château Lafite’s, 17,600 cases. Indeed, despite the DRC’s face value of £37 million this year, Corney & Barrow’s dutiful follow-up letter to disappointed applicants details precisely how many times the wines are oversubscribed.

De Villaine appears genuinely puzzled by all the attention. He claims only to sell to customers he hopes will drink the wine and Corney’s Adam Brett Smith makes the point equally firmly. The reality is however that most of those lucky enough to own a bottle can’t afford to drink it since it’s become a luxury goods and investment vehicle.

Given that more than seven out of 10 bottles labelled Château Lafite in China are fake, it seems likely that DRC will suffer a similar fate even though de Villaine has brought in a new guarantee of traceability for the 2010 vintage.

‘When I started out, I never thought my business would be to fight fraud’, says de Villaine. Now that he’s learnt to live with Mother Nature, human nature is the next battleground. For my 2010 vintage review, video and prices, see www.anthonyrosewine.com.

Something for the WeekendSomething for the Weekend

Something for the Weekend 20 April

Night In

2011 Paul Mas Nicole Vineyard Syrah / Viognier, IGP Pays d’Oc

This deeply satisfying imitation of the northern Rhône’s Côte Rôtie, displays a smoky aromatic quality underpinned by succulently spicy, peppery dark berry fruit. Buy 2 = £6.99, down from £8.99, until 30 April, Majestic.

Dinner Party

2010 Tesco Finest* Stellenbosch Red Blend

Smoky with a touch of fragrant leafiness, this appealing red combines blackcurrant and mulberry juiciness with vanilla oak spice in a Cape meets Rioja style that needs a daube or char-grilled steak. £7.99, down from £9.99, until Tuesday, Tesco.

Splash Out

2011 Moulin-à-Vent, Beaujolais, Lucien Lardy

There’s Beaujolais and then there’s great Moulin-à-Vent, a serious gamay-based red in this case that is that’s exuberantly spicy and aromatic with a vivid, mouthwatering raspberry and cherry fruit quality and fabulous clarity of expression. £13.14, The Sampler shops (02072269500).


Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2010 Vintage Tasting Notes


Pale colour, seductively smoky aromatic red berry fruits fragrance with lovely vanilla veneer, a tart spine of fresh acidity underlying soft ripe mulberry fruit to provide structure with some added grip on the finish provided by effortlessly silky tannins, a wine of lovely purity of fruit and restraint. 92+

£925 / case of 6 bottles, in bond UK


Pale bright ruby hue, considerable extra depth to the nose of the Echézeaux after the Corton, the red berry fruits fragrance seeming to have absorbed the delicately spicy oak a little better, while an underyling root-like quality suggests a slight herbal element to the wine. The fruit is sweetly, in fact opulently ripe, delicately spicy, with a seductive cherry and raspberry-like sweetness, almost no perceptible tannins, but a lively fresh quality and towards the end a slight tannic grip for structure. 94+

£1,295 / case of 6 bottles, in bond UK

Grands Echézeaux

Pale in colour, ruby glints, a hint of herbal red berry fruit fragrance like mulberry leaf on the nose, hugely seductive mulberry fruit freshness on the palate with imperceptible tannic grip but a fine supporting spine of acidity behind a lovely intense strawberry fruit quality that’s neither fleshy nor rich yet has a poised sweetness and opulence, finishing textured and silky, almost the quintessence of finesse. You only begin to feel the tannins, that mineral touch of dryness when the wine is gone. 94

£1,850 / case of 6 bottles, in bond UK


Pale in colour with ruby glints the mulberry / cherry fruit sweet fragrance is intense to the point of drawing you seductively into the glass; there’s a touch of that typical spice and herbal mulberry character seen in the Grands Echézeaux and a lovely volume of intense, ripe sweet cherry and raspberry pinot noir fruit quality, the beautifully poised fragrance continuing onto the palate which is rich and yet beautifully balanced, fresh and deceptively firm. Ethereal finesse and structure combined. 95

£1,475 / case of 3 bottles, in bond UK

Romanée St Vivant

Paleish ruby yet intense in colour and equally, very intense and fragrantly spicy on the nose, showing intense sweet smoke and vanilla behind a lovely mulberry sweet fruitiness, while the palate is the most opulent and concentrated so far, the sheer weight of mulberry and raspberry fruit singling and dancing a hugely seductive song; it tastes almost juicy at this stage so succulently juicy and silky are the tannins and yet behind the fruit lurks a fine spine of supporting fresh acidity and deceptively firm tannins. Great finesse, very grand. 96+

£1,550 / cases of 3 bottles, in bond UK

La Tâche

A little deeper in colour, but still relatively pale, fine fresh spicy rooty red berry fruit fragrance with a lovely, and lively, intensity, lovely volume of concentrated seductive rich raspberry and mulberry fruit with an extra fraise du bois fragrance to it and a shade more oomph and powerful textured opulence on the palate too. And behind this impressive depth of sweetly seductive fruit there’s a terrific structure formed by a spine of refreshing acidity and firmer tannins than seen on any thing that goes before it. A marvellous wine of great depth and finesse. 98+

£1,750 / case of 3 bottles, in bond UK


Super depth of intense ruby colour, powerful and intense fragrance, spicy / rooty strawberry and cherry fragrance with a delicately smoke and vanilla edge to it; power with poise in the palate, with plenty of concentration and beautifully focused dark cherry and loganberry fruit richness, and behind the fruit opulence, sensually textured tannins and beautifully balanced fresh acidity. It’s sexy drink me wine which, when the last drop has gone, says why didn’t you linger? I tried. 98

£5,475 / case of 3 bottles, in bond UK


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