Monthly Archives: March 2012

The wine of all wines

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti

A tasting of DRC we attended this past month.

It’s getting close to spring in Naples, and that means one thing for us at Decanted…new releases. Yes, new releases in the spring! And not from the southern hemisphere. The spring brings about lots of excitement in the wine world, with some of the most sought after wineries releasing their newest vintages from California, Italy, and France. But one winery trumps all others…Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC for short) dates back to 1272 when the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne acquired 1.8 hectares of vineyard in Burgundy, France. In 1631 it changed hands to the de Croonembourg family, who renamed it Romanée, they also acquired what was to be one of the most famous winery vineyards – La Tâche. After a bidding war in 1760 between the mistress of Louis XV of France and Louis Francois, prince of Conti (who won and changed the name to Romanee-Conti), the winery was seized during the revolution and auctioned off. The winning bidder sold it off again in 1869 to Jacques-Marie Duvault-Bloche who has built the Domaine into what it is today.

So what’s so special about DRC?
In France, everything is about the land and DRC is no different. Their vineyard holdings in Burgundy include some of the best: La Tache, Romanee-Conti, Richebourg, Romanee-St-Vivant, Grands Echezeaux, Echezeaux, and Montrachet. All of the vineyards are Grand Cru, the highest rank in Burgundy, indicating that they are among the best selections of land in the region for Pinot Noir growth. Of these, La Tache and Romanee-Conti are not only the most sought after from the winery, but some of the most coveted wines in the world. Both vineyards are monopoles.

A monopole is a designation given to a vineyard when the vineyard is controlled and all wine is produced by one winery. This is extremely rare in France, especially Burgundy, due to Napoleonic inheritance laws that have been in place for centuries. According to the law, all property inheritance must be split equally between heirs. As you can imagine, some modern-day properties have now been split hundreds of times resulting in some parties owning single rows in a vineyard…hardly enough to produce a significant amount of wine. Once the wine reaches the production facility, modern technology is mixed with traditional methods using the best oak from the Troncais forests (France) for their barrels.

How do I get a bottle of DRC?
There are a few obstacles to being able to actually drink a bottle of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. The first being price. The recently released 2009 vintage (one of the best on record), starts at $1,000….for one bottle. We get a lot of questions about whether the wine is worth the price or not. I usually answer with the explanation of how special the land is, that I addressed in the previous paragraph AND the fact that there is not much of it…at all. Which leads to the second problem, the wine is highly allocated. Allocated is a term used in the wine industry for wineries that hand select who receives the wine. Selection is based on a various number of factors including purchase history and support of other brands that a winery owns. In my experience as a retailer, DRC is one of the only wineries in the world that has survived (and thrived) the recession and emerged with not only a strong allocation list, but lengthy waiting list. As in any industry, price is affected by supply and demand.

But if you are looking to get a bottle of DRC on your hands, now is the time. The wine of all wines is now in pre-order and a know a number of retailers (ourselves included 😉 ) who are in the process of selling their allocation now. And if you do get a bottle, call me.

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Uncorked: Wine Business Update for March 14, 2012

Here’s whats happening in the wine world this week…

  • More good news for the economy, wine sales continue to rise with an 11% increase in sales in February 2012 over the previous year.
  • Pioneering winemaker, Ernest Van Asperen of Round Hill winery, passed away at the age of 96.
  • California’s 2011 crush totaled 3,874,146 tons, down 3 percent from the 2010 crush of 3,986,314 tons. The 2011 average price of all varieties reached a record high of $591.69, up 9 percent from 2010 and 3 percent above the previous record high set in 2009.
  • The most important wine region to New Yorkers isn’t Bordeaux, Tuscany or the Mosel. It’s New Jersey, where almost all the fine wine they drink is warehoused before being delivered to local stores and restaurants. An amendment before the New York Senate would end this practice, and require wines to be stored in-state for 48 hours. Small wholesalers are up in arms, claiming this is an attempt to drive them out of business by the state’s two biggest liquor distributors, Southern Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants, who already have their storage facilities within state lines.
  • A certain wine blogger (uh-hum) celebrates their birthday…

Uncorked: Happenings in the Wine World

Here’s our weekly recap of what’s going on in the wine industry:

  • Mondavi rolls out its first new brand in 60 years. The Divining Rod, will include a 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay and a 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both priced at $17 per bottle.
  • Lady Gaga was spotted in Sonoma this past weekend dining at local spots including the Girl and the Fig (Sonoma) and Catelli’s Restaurant (Geyersville). Although she left the meat dress at home, her stiletto heels gave her away as a non Sonoma local.
  • A new study from Pennsylvania State University reveals that wine experts and critics may have a better sense of smell than most consumers. In the study, 110 wine experts had a greater sensitivity to a bitter smelling solution than 220 consumers.
  • A new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine reveals that alcohol may prevent type-2 diabetes, especially in patients who are overweight.
  • The 2012 Miami South Beach Wine & Food Festival was held over the weekend and included visits from celebrities, Emeril Lagasse, Guy Fieri, and Masahuru Morimoto. For a full recap, click here.
  •  A recent Research & Markets report has added wines in Chile to its list of industries. Although wines in Chile have experienced a period of stagnation the last two years with troubles from earthquakes and crisis, the reporting agency expects to see exports increase over the next couple years.
  • The Chinese continue their love of Bordeaux, however this time they are showing their love by investing in entire estates. At least 15 individuals have bought out Bordeaux houses beginning in 2011. The new investment is likely a result of the increased consumption of Bordeaux wines in China (110% increase in 2011 alone), mainly by affluent Chinese.