Thursday, March 10, 2011

What it's like to taste Domaine Romanée Conti

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Last month I finally had the pleasure of tasting the wines of Domaine Romanée Conti, a holy grail for wine geeks -- the most expensive wines in the world, from the most coveted real estate.

I got home from that tasting and my friend Glenn asked what it was like. I replied flippantly; I don't remember what I said. Glenn chastised me, telling me he wanted to experience the wines vicariously through me.

So I wrote this column about tasting DRC for Wine Review Online. I'm not going to repeat it here, but it's as honest as I could get about the experience. I will confess here that I woke up in the middle of the night tortured by self-loathing over the ending of the piece, because it really happened and it was really embarrassing. And then I went ahead and told everybody about it, because what the hell, done is done. The catharsis helped; now I'm sleeping just fine, thank you. At least until the pennant race starts.

What I do want to give you here is a taste of the tasting notes. Wine Review Online survives on subscriptions for its tasting notes, so my notes for all 8 wines are behind their pay wall. This is the kind of thing you might get to vicariously enjoy if you subscribe.

I picked this one because it's near the middle of the range both in price (they go from $255 to $3725) and in the score I gave it (all the wines I scored between 93 and 99; exactly 4 were higher than this.) And, while it's one of the shorter reviews, I like the description. After you read the column, you'll see why I want to try to regain some of my professionalism. Sleep well.

Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Romanée-St.-Vivant, Burgundy, 2008 ($1070)
Importer: Wilson-Daniels
Point score: 94
The RSV's aroma is so delicate -- raspberry, some oak, mushrooms -- that its savory attack in the mouth comes as a shock. The primary flavor is raspberry, but it's so tangy, and the smoked meat note is so strong, that it reminded me of raspberries left in a smokehouse surrounded by pork ribs. Noticeable tannins suggest that it will reward long cellaring.


Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Meh... overpriced wine salivated over by old men who have nothing better to waste their kids inheritence on.

This is as bad ( or worse ) than the "cult cabs" of cali that charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for overhyped, overextracted fruit bombs. ( not saying DRC is a fruit bomb... just overhyped)

when all is said and done.. it's just wine... unless that bottle comes between the legs of a victoria's secret model, I'm not buying.

W. Blake Gray said...

PCP: I think it's nigh impossible for us to put ourselves in the place of the typical DRC customer. Consider Bill Gates for a moment. I don't know if he drinks DRC, but he certainly could. Every few minutes he earns more than enough money to buy a bottle of DRC Montrachet. So if it's really delicious, why shouldn't he enjoy it?

I never get outraged about prices for luxury goods; if Larry Ellison wants to give his money to DRC, why shouldn't he? I only worry about the prices of wines that I can actually afford.

Charlie Olken said...

I don't get the PCP point. Why insult CA Cabs and DRC, turn the debate into one of his weird sexual fantasties AND miss the essential point in the bargain.

The best of the DRCs are as good as it gets. Very few of us get to drink them or even to experience them, but that should not stop us from taking the opportunity when we do and to write about the experience.

Besides, this is a guy whose website is dedicated to making the fanciest, best charcuterie he can. Clearly, he has excellence as his goal, not "just salami". So why denigrate excellence in another food and wine medium?

Sorry, PCP, just not necessary.

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers.... just expressing an opinion.

If I really pined after DRC like Mr. Blake, I would raid the bank and buy one.. but my wine preference runs to the sub $100 bottles.. just because I know myself well enough to know that my palate isn't refined enough to tell the difference between DRC and one of those bottles.

If anyone cares to buy them.. that's great.. I'd just prefer to see LOTS more coverage of the bottles that most of us are buying.

Thanks for checking out my blog.. it's not as current as I'd like, as I have a full time job on the side.. but I do enjoy it, and do it to the best of my meager ability.

As to my sexual fantasies... pull up a chair, we could be here a while.

Short summary.. to each their own ( although that doesn't make for interesting blog commenting ).

Anonymous said...

holy grail? perhaps. Great wine: no doubt. Always a treat, as it is 'the real deal.'.....they've been dedicated and worked hard over the decades to market and establish themselves....and since there is a market for it....why not? Why do dogs lick 'themselves', anyhow? HEY PCP::: no worries, they'll be there for you someday:::: and after you have one, you'll drink one of your more affordable ones and get just as much pleasure out of it. RHR

W. Blake Gray said...

Wow, talk about comment drift! If your fantasies involve use of your salumi I can only hope you're hygienic.

Pete said...

Of course there's no reason for them to prohibit anyone from taking a sip of wine with them -- what, you're going to sell it on the black (Gray?) market? Except: By doing so they reinforce their exclusivity. You want it. You can't have it. "A Wilson Daniels rep mentioned that one critic who brought home a test-tube of DRC had never been invited back." Whether that happened or not -- that the critic did that, I mean -- what a great story for a Wilson Daniels rep to drop! Anyway, fine column, Blake, enjoyed it very much.

Anonymous said...

Do bottles that come from in between the legs of a Victoria's Secret model have a "foxy" nose?

W. Blake Gray said...

Until that comment I had led my entire life blissfully unaware of the true meaning of the Jimi Hendrix song.