There are weeks that are long, there are weeks that are short, and there are weeks that are an absolute blur. The latter tends to happen to me more often than most, and I am not saying it with pride. In the words of Sweet Lou, ‘It is what it is.’ A thousand emails, a hundred calls, a few flights and a whole lotta bottles will do that to a man. In the midst of one of those weeks, really it was ten days, there was one evening that made me see clearly, and that was a night dedicated to the most important producer in the world, Domaine de la Romanee Conti.
This was a Wine Workshop event, led by The Hamburglar, and if you haven’t been to a Wine Workshop event, and you live or frequent New York City, then what are you waiting for? The greatest wine events in the world are held by The Wine Workshop, and by the way, that will be truer than ever May 5-7 in 2017. You need to know, and you need to contact email@example.com ASAP if you want to participate in the type of evenings that I write about, because that one will be open to the public, and it will be at 11 Madison, Daniel and Per Se for those of you that care about food, too. Don’t send me those emails, ‘how can I get invited,’ because you just were : )
Enough with the plug, and back to the real star of the evening, DRC. The tasting was La Tache vs. Romanee Conti, and to make it a little more interesting, we served each flight blind. We knew the vintage, but we didn’t know which one was RC, or which one was LT. The games began, but not before we had a surprise appearance to set the stage.
The Long Way Home
A magnum of 2008 DRC Montrachet was brought unexpectedly by our ‘supplier’ for the event, just because that’s the type of guy this Midwest Master of Wine is. Remember, sharing is caring!!! It was a perfect bottle of this wine, and everything you could ask for in a young DRC Monty. Rich, sweet and buttery, this was long and fat with flavors of rainwater and honey. This was just a delicious wine, and ready to go out of magnum, ‘exotic’ per Hollywood Jef. It had a lemon finger finish, and it got stronger as its peacock tail started to fan. Somehow, this massively great wine managed to maintain a feminine personality, but maybe it’s just because I love the ladies. Make that I only love one lady lol (96M).
We started the official program with 1993, and the first wine had a tight, austere nose which was very wound up. There were lots of herbal and cedar aromas, along with this Fernet Branca liqueur like edge. It was heavy and long, and I was convinced it was RC…and I was wrong. This 1993 DRC La Tache was deeper, darker, richer and longer than the RC that followed. It was a great bottle (96+).
MÂŽnage a DRC
The 1993 DRC Romanee Conti had much more fruit with its open, red strawberry personality. It was more feminine, and ‘more young’ per one of our guests. The Hamburglar quoted the Burghound comparing LT to RC, saying ‘La Tache gives it to you, while RC makes you come and get it.’ The Punisher definitely got the RC, as it was his preferred wine. It was also rich and long, and a bit oily, with more green bean and cedar to go with its dry finish. It had lengthy acid, but it was more elegant. I was literally stunned to find out this was RC (95).
Our second pair was 1991, and the first wine had great spice, oil and rust to go with rich tomato and leather aromas. The palate was softer, relatively speaking, so I was thinking La Tache. The Ringmaster noted ‘coffee,’ while The Boss felt the ’91s showed younger than the ’93s. The palate was rich and long, zipping along with nice stalk qualities and a lipsmacking finish. It was the 1991 DRC Romanee Conti (96).
The 1991 DRC La Tache was darker, deeper and longer and much more expressive. This was a case of long and longer, and its rich and heavy profile was laden with dark, black and purple fruits. This was serious shtuff (97).
Of the first four wines, there were eight votes for the 1991 RC, four votes for the 1993 RC, five votes for the 1991 LT and three votes for the 1993 LT as favorite of the four.
How about some 1990? It wouldn’t be a proper retrospective of DRC without the 1990s, and the first wine wasn’t just rich; it was wealthy There was this floral kink to it, and a foresty floor to go with a very high ceiling. Its finish was huge, and so was its acidity, this had Trump written all over it. It thickened in the glass, and one found ‘rose’ qualities to this behemoth of a 1990 DRC Romanee Conti (98).
The 1990 DRC La Tache was a bit lighter and Sgreener, with less acid. It was delicate by comparison, but it still had a brothy, soupy and delicious personality. It was more herbal, creamy with a long finish alongs with nice cedar and leather flavors. It gained in the glass, but it never quite caught up to the RC (97).
While the 1989 DRC La Tache was corked (DQ), the 1989 DRC Romanee Conti was not. It was a bit pungent and gamy as ’89s are prone to be. The Punisher again pegged the RC correctly and why shouldn’t he? He probably drinks more of it than any one I know. There was good rubber, leather and a lot of spank; it was a veritable sex shop of a wine. It kept gaining in the glass (95).
1985 was next, and the first of the pair had that good dirty ol’ South action. It was another rich wine, sensing a theme? Someone said, ‘it was too big in the mouth and too aromatic to be La Tache,’ and they were right, even though I guessed La Tache incorrectly again! This 1985 DRC Romanee Conti was delicious and chocolaty, minty and smooth, satiny with nice acid. Someone observed ‘The Finger of God’ (96M).
The 1985 DRC La Tache was brighter with a lot more menthol. It felt fresher in every which way, and mint and menthol kept coming up in my notes. This was a ‘Bright Lights, Big City’ wine, and a great example of this sometimes maligned vintage of La Tache (97).
The 1988 DRC La Tache was also corked (DQ),but the 1988 DRC Romanee Conti was just fine. It had a deep, iron nose and was ‘very tight’ per one guest. There was a lot of rock, paper and scissors in the house. This was a stony and zippy vintage of RC, or DRC for that matter, with minerals rippling throughout its finish. The acidity of RC stood out again. I was starting to figure it out 🙂 (95).
It was 1983’s turn. This is a vintage I have always liked in Burgundy, one of those under the radar, pet vintages of mine. There was fresh rainwater in the first wine, along with lots of black fruits and dates. This was a soft and delicious wine that was tender, long and smooth. It was a knight of red satin, and this 1983 DRC Romanee Conti was consistent with other RC’s (95).
Yes, That’s a Magnum
The 1983 DRC La Tache had a deeper, darker nose that was more intense. Its palate was rich, possessing thick, long yet fine tannins. It was more austere, ‘backwards’ per one guest, and its acid lingered in RC fashion. This has always been a spectacular vintage of La Tache, believe it (97).
It was time to end up this magical evening in Disney fashion with a pair of 1978s. The first wine was spectacular. It was big and rich with loads of menthol, earth, spices and the perfect combination of brown and black fruits. There was tons of acid in this so so rich and peppery wine, which was a 1978 DRC La Tache by the way. It smacked lips and asses (98).
The Great ’78s
The 1978 DRC Romanee Contiwas similar yet smoother. It was a softer and easier wine, delicious of course. I can’t remember who ‘HJ’ was, but he said, ‘Now that’s a spicy meatball’ (95).
I was surprised how much I preferred La Tache on this night, although all wines were in the outstanding to best wines of my life categories, here. There are many who feel within the first 30 years, La Tache gives more pleasure, and then after that the RCs start to take off, so to speak. This night would be a good exhibit for that argument, at least for me. I hope to be able to continue this debate on many occasions in the future! There are few wines that always bring Joy to the World, but for me, DRC is one of them. Have Yourself a Very DRC Christmas!
In Vino Veritas,