Anthony Rose: 'Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has become the ultimate collector's wine'

 

It's no surprise that the tasting of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's latest release at Corney & Barrow's Tower of London offices took place in hushed tones. Yes, there's the reverence accorded to what the wine exchange Liv-ex calls 'the new darling of the fine wine trade', recently awarded number-one spot in its Top 10 global fine wine brands.

There's a sense, too, that in tough economic times, the astonishing prices commanded by the domaine are somewhat surreal. But the reverence is as much for the quiet authority of Aubert de Villaine, the man behind DRC.

A natural vigneron, de Villaine's scholarly demeanour is born out of a respect for the extraordinary power of nature. Becoming biodynamic was a reflection of that faith.

So much so that in talking about the 2010 vintage, he eschews easy positives in favour of the specific personality of the year. Dubbed 'great' by the media and the trade, 2010 was, for him, "difficult".

"It's not 2009, 2005 or 1999 with their solar expression but more Burgundian in that it shows the exoticism that exists in the vineyards." The twinkle in his mind's eye reflects on medieval times and the monks whose ascetic lives were occasionally featherbedded by exotic rewards.

De Villaine's charisma aside, that the DRC has become the ultimate collector's wine is the result of painstaking work, the exceptional terroir of Vosne-Romanée from which its six great pinot noirs spring and the limited quantities made. With an average of 7,310 cases of red wine, and just 430 of Romanée-Conti itself, the greatest of them all, DRC's red Burgundies are the ultimate limited editions that wine lovers and investors covet.

Compare that with last year's darling, Château Lafite's, 17,600 cases. Indeed, despite the DRC's face value of £37 million this year, Corney & Barrow's dutiful follow-up letter to disappointed applicants details precisely how many times the wines are oversubscribed.

De Villaine appears genuinely puzzled by all the attention. He claims only to sell to customers he hopes will drink the wine and Corney's Adam Brett Smith makes the point equally firmly. The reality is, however, that most of those lucky enough to own a bottle can't afford to drink it since it's become a luxury goods and investment vehicle.

Given that more than seven out of 10 bottles labelled Château Lafite in China are fake, it seems likely that DRC will suffer a similar fate, even though de Villaine has brought in a new guarantee of traceability for the 2010 vintage.

"When I started out, I never thought my business would be to fight fraud," says de Villaine. Now that he's learnt to live with Mother Nature, human nature is the next battleground.

Suggested Topics
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice