'Romanée-Conti,' as the local proverb goes, 'is the central pearl of the Burgundian necklace.' This miniuscule vineyard gives its name to the most famous Domaine in the world, commonly referred to as 'D.R.C.' or, more reverentially, as The Domaine.
This pearl, this small jewel, just under 5 acres, was coveted by a famous collector of jewelry, Madame de Pompadour, but she was outbid by the Prince de Conti, hence the name. The King's minister won against the King's mistress! In 1868 the vineyard passed to the de Villaine family and is still, today, managed by Aubert de Villaine.
One thing strikes me forcibly: these five sites prove unquestionably that the French notion of terroir is not a fancy figment of Gallic imagination for the differences between each of the wines is marked, so consistent. Yet all five of the DRC burgundies are made, traditionally, in the same cellars from grapes of the same variety, Pinot Noir. Romanée-Conti itself has a unique concentration, La Tâche has a different sort of intensity, each having a superb yet vividly contrasting bouquet. Richebourg, next door, has a broader character, and so on. So what produces those differences: slight variations in subsoil, slope and drainage, fractionally, virtually imperceptible microclimate. Who knows. But fermented and élévé identically, the final wines are different.
Another thing I have discovered. They keep so well. The 1937 Romanée-Conti is still magnificent, the 1945 La Tâche has an almost pristine depth of color and fragrance. The wine opens up in the mouth fanning out like a peacock's tail. Even curious vintages like 1951 and 1954 can be surprisingly good. And do they change! Sometimes unconvincingly when young, they take on color and depth. They are not wines for an instant sniff; they open up in the glass.
Michael Broadbent MW
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1976
Grand Cru, Côte de Nuits
Levels: one 2cm, one 3.5cm; slight signs of old seepage, one lightly corroded capsule at on top, one nicked and lightly bin soiled label, one wine stained neck tag, one scuffed, torn, and lightly bin soiled label
2 bottles per lot