“To DRC or not to DRC” – that was the question!

This was a wine geeks nightmare only Hollywood could dream up. You’re one of twelve incredibly lucky Burgundy lovers around the State invited to the premier of the 2009 Domaine Romanee Conti portfolio of wines – including Romanee Conti, Montrachet, and Corton – the debut of this wine from three recently acquired climats. Sounds good so far right…

Then the morning of the event you wake up feeling as though sometime during the night your sinuses had been force-fed your king-sized pillow.  I get a cold every 3-4 years, so why today?  Should I attend knowing that sitting in front of me was not just one, but nine of the most incredible wines ever produced, and they could be all but lost on me. After all, the two most critical senses to wine appreciation, the nose and palate, were all but gone!

Teary-eyed, both from the cold and maybe from fearing what I was not about to experience, I offered up my seat. Thankfully there were no takers and Wilson-Daniels, the US importer of DRC insisted I participate. Well okay, twist my arm…

While my senses of smell and taste were certainly altered,  just knowing the pedigree of the wines in front of me was enough to forge on. I swirled, sniffed, sipped and yes, spit. Since my palate was somewhat damaged, no sense in mixing the alcohol and cold medication.

All was not lost however as I learned from the group, which included a couple of Master Sommeliers and premium wine merchants, what I usually experience first hand as they discussed the nuances of the wines, the DRC property, vintage, and arguably, the world’s most respected vintner, Aubert de Villaine.

2009 was very kind to Burgundy, known to be one of the most challenging of all wine regions in the world. Aubert believes 2009 to be every bit the exceptional vintage as the heralded  1999’s and 2005’s.  And so, despite a stuffed nose and somewhat damaged taste buds, I confirmed why DRC wines are regarded by many as the greatest wines in the world.

Beginning with the seductive Vosne-Romanee, followed by the Corton (a wine described by de Villaine as “somber”), and then through the two Echezeaux’s, the wines  were finally becoming really distinquishable from one another for me. But it was first the Richebourg, and then the La Tache, with its smoky, grilled meat component, that nearly fully restored my sense of smell and  taste.  I only wish I could have gotten a doggie-bag for the Grand Cru Romanee-Conti (the wine considered to be the pinnacle of the pinot-based DRC’s), to enjoy at a later date when my cold finally ran its course.

And the last wine in this magnificent tasting was the only white in the flight, the only white produced by DRC, the Montrachet. The best I could describe this wine was “mind-bending!” I have had a few opportunities to experience Montrachet from DRC and they have all been what I considered to be akin to a religious experience!  Maybe because it was the single wine of the group that most excited my flawed senses or the astounding freshness or its jarring acidity, this was one of the greatest wines I ever tasted!

Rare and rightfully expensive, the wines of Domaine Romanee Conti are why most serious wine lovers, collectors and Sommeliers all eventually gravitate to Burgundy!  Not to take anything away from great Bordeaux, a few remarkable Rhones, the Italian classics, and a handful of California cults, but when the most experienced and passionate palates are asked to name their “Desert Island” wines, they unhesitatingly respond DRC.

With good reason!



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