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
Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
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

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment