So… remember when I did that whole Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2010 tasting that I attended? You know, back in the day?
I know… you still hate me for that one, right?
Well, if you makes you feel any better, I’ve not tasted a recent vintage of the fabled DRC since that NYC gathering. I did, however, pen a take on the tasting for my old Playboy.com gig, the result of which was purchased, but never aired (similar to the piece I wrote about a visit to O. Fournier in Argentina).
Today, since I am in the middle of recovering from my second gum graft (combating gum recession due to a combination of genetic predisposition and occupational hazard), I decided to scour the archives, throw some caution to the wind, and share that never-released take on the 2010 DRC.
I suppose that this is, in fact, a bit of laziness on my part, but gum grafts hurt like a motherf*cker, people (and let’s not forget, no wine until this stuff is at least halfway healed up). Putting on some slightly-tinted rosé-colored glasses for a moment, one could (charitably) think of the following article as an alternate take bonus track, 1WD style (fair warning: “1WD style” means that this article contains references to superheroes, ass-licking, despair, and urine).
How To Face Off Against The World’s Greatest Pinot Noir (Inside The Coveted Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Vintage Tasting)
DRC – three letters that raise body temperatures in the wine world like Shelby Chesnes raises body temperatures in the real world. They stand for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, producer of the world’s most sought-after Pinot Noir. The venerable Burgundy outlet makes only about seven thousand cases of wine per year from eight Grand Cru vineyards, two of which have been in operation since the thirteenth century, and all of which sit atop Burgundy’s legal appellation system food chain. These are wines priced squarely in the “why yes, I do own a Lear jet” territory.
If you want to get an invite to the annual DRC vintage tasting, you can either sell wine to some of those Lear jet owners, become a wine critic (not recommended for your liver health), or hope that you suddenly come across a rather large sum of money (hey, maybe your uncle Smitty is actually a multi-billionaire instead of a chain-smoking deadbeat, and will secretly leave you his entire fortune when he dies, forgetting about the time you hammered nails into his best coffee table when you were twelve…).
Assuming you do manage to get in on a DRC tasting, as I did in NYC for the unveiling of the 2010 vintage (yes, I am still pinching myself), here’s what you can expect…
You’ll be rubbing elbows – literally, due to the packed-house seating – with some of the biggest buyers, critics, and sommeliers in the wine biz. Which means hanging out with so many older white guys that you’ll be wondering if you accidentally stumbled into a health clinic on Free Prostate Exam Thursdays. But no bitching – this is the price you pay for tasting greatness.
Don’t worry about encountering snobbery; you’ll get smiling faces and happy people at every turn, because even the snobbiest attendees are just be happy to be there, too.
You might be expecting a lot of sycophantic ass-licking, but that’s exactly the opposite vibe of the tasting. Instead, DRC head honcho Aubert de Villaine will give you a vintage introduction, and prove that the term “French Gentleman” is not oxymoronic. De Villaine views his role as a steward of land and history, saying things like “if we wished to compare this vintage, full of challenges and traps, to a Homeric epic, we would say that the first quality of the vigneron was not the heroism of Achilles or Hector in the Iliad, but the prudence, craftiness and obstinacy of Ulysses in the Odyssey” all without an ounce of pomposity.
Decked out in a three-piece, Aubert will grace you with a good deal of humility, too, as he expresses genuine half-disbelief that DRC were able to pull it all off yet again this year. “We call it ‘The Burgundian miracle,’” he mentioned at the 2010 tasting; “despite our difficulties, it was still possible to make great wine. We’ve been struggling with moments of anguish, despair, and hope.”
After you taste the wines, de Villaine will even ask for your opinion, with an “we always know that we could have done better,” as if he was bussing a table instead of helping to make sublime wines whose ongoing standard is perfection.
The Vino, By the Numbers
Once you finally get to dive into the few ounces of each wine that’s been teasingly sitting in front of you for several agonizing minutes, the only sound you’ll hear is the sacred-church-bell clinking of glassware. No one will say a word, presumably because it’s just sinking in that in the next few minutes you’ll all be imbibing a dollar amount in excess of what most people spend on wine in five years. As for whether or not the juice is worth the stratospheric prices, that’s not the point when it’s finally in front of you and didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to try it.
Here’s what those ounces will taste like (all single-vineyard Pinot Noir, unless noted):
|The Juice||Street value of 2.5 ounce pour||“Real-human” tasting note|
|Corton 2010||$40||A blend of old vine Pinot from DRC’s three different climats. Like getting a sensual massage; but it’s at the hands of a pre-pregnancy Jessica Simpson, wearing only the Daisy Dukes.|
|Échézeaux 2010||$45||Remember that wet dream you had as a teenager, the one that starts off with you being a film noir detective and the super hot red head comes into your smoky office and says she will do anything if you’ll find her lost pussy cat? It’s a lot like that. Wait, what do you mean that was just me?!??|
|Grands-Échézeaux 2010||$75||A wine that laughs at your petty human endeavors, like nation-building. Won’t be ready to drink for a few more presidential terms, sports a finish that lasts longer than a filibuster|
|Romanée-St-Vivant 2010||$120||If you ever need a wine with which you can sip while contemplating that all we know will eventually come to a cold, bitter, unforgiving end in a few billion years when the Universe stops expanding… this is that wine.|
|Richebourg 2010||$120||Aren’t things with this kind of precision, purity and length supposed to be used to calibrate scientific instruments?|
|La Tâche 2010||$120||Like having sex with all of 2012’s Playmates of the month simultaneously. Only with more licorice and spices. Or at least, how you’d imagine that happening if licorice and spices were involved…|
|Romanée-Conti 2010||$415||The vinous equivalent of the enigmatic thirty-sided Dungeons & Dragons dice, the ones that looked cool but no one could figure out when to use. Only these are made of precious sapphires that aren’t actually inert jewels, but are intelligent alien beings bearing peace, goodwill and advanced hot tub technology.|
|Montrachet 2010||$235||The DRC white wine, a Chardonnay from the Côte de Beaune. More complex than a Tom Clancy plot, and sporting enough electricity to power midtown Manhattan for a week, or send lightening bolt-tossing Spider-Man nemesis Electro into a coma.|
The total dollar value of those roughly 3 and ½ glasses worth of 2010 DRC you will have just downed? About $1170.
The approximate value of your DRC-infused urine (assuming normal elimination rates, that is) one hour after the tasting? About $130.
But you’re totally not auctioning a jar of that urine on eBay later. And you’re definitely not routinely pulling it out that jar in front of your wine-loving friends as a self-absorbed totem to your newfound bragging rights.