10 things you should know about Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
1. Its wines are incredibly exclusive
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, commonly referred to as ‘DRC’, produces between 6,000 and 8,000 cases of wine a year, with cases of its renowned Romanée-Conti limited to around just 450. Waiting lists for its offerings are lengthy and often restricted to friends and colleagues of the estate, while average prices for its ‘entry-level’ wine, Corton Grand Cru, sits at around $2,000 per bottle. Romanée-Conti, meanwhile, can sell for upwards of $20,000 per bottle.
2. All of its wines come from grand cru vineyards
DRC produces eight different wines from eight different vineyards: La Tâche, Romanée Saint-Vivant, Echézeaux, Grand Echézeaux, Richebourg, La Romanée Conti, Corton and Montrachet. All of these are on grand cru sites, with two of them monopoles (fully owned sites). There are some parcels in premier cru vineyards, but the only wines bottled and sold are grands crus.
3. It produces a super exclusive domaine-only wine
Romanée-Conti might be its most famed – and expensive – wine, but it’s not the most exclusive. DRC also owns a tiny 0.42 acre-sized plot of the Bâtard-Montrachet vineyard, from which it produces just two barrels of wine per year, reserved solely for consumption at the domaine.
4. Its vineyards lie on a UNESCO World Heritage site
In 2015, after a decade of research and lobbying by DRC co-director Aubert de Villaine, the United Nations cultural arm granted World Heritage status to the vineyards of Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits regions. “What is most important for me is that the people of Burgundy, especially the vignerons, be inspired by the ancient, precious, unique treasure they hold in their hands,” de Villaine said at the time.
5. Don’t expect a winery tour any time soon
In keeping with DRC’s phenomenally exclusive status, visitors are only welcome at the property if they have made a prior appointment – which the domaine rarely grants. Turn up unexpectedly and you’ll be politely turned away onto the appropriately-named rue du Temps Perdu – the ‘Street of Lost Time’.
6. The vineyard once sparked a major bidding war
When La Romanée went up for sale in 1760, a bidding war broke out between Marquise de Pompadour, the former chief mistress of Louis XV, and Louis-François de Bourbon, the Prince of Conti. The Prince of Conti emerged victorious (after paying an enormous 8,000 livres), and after adding his name to the vineyard, took all of its wines off the market, preferring instead to keep them all for his personal consumption. He had a reputation for holding incredibly lavish Parisian parties, but refused to share wines from the Romanée-Conti vineyard with even his dearest friends.
7. It’s a family affair
Ownership of the esteemed domaine has passed down through one or two families across multiple generations. Since 1942, DRC has been co-owned by the de Villaine and Roch families, with Aubert de Villaine and Henri-Frédéric Roch’s printed signatures appearing on every bottle.
8. It’s something of a winemaking trendsetter
While the domaine has roots dating back to 1232, when the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne first acquired 1.8 hectares of vineyard, it’s well-known for its progressive, forward-thinking approach to winemaking. It was one of the first properties in Burgundy to begin bottling its own wine in the 1930s and 1940s, and after seven years of experimentation the entire domaine was converted to biodynamic practices in 2007. Nonetheless, when it comes to creating the wine itself, the domaine puts an emphasis on minimal intervention.
9. It’s been the subject of an elaborate criminal plot
In 2010 de Villaine received a ransom note warning that if the estate didn’t hand over one million euros, the sender would poison the vines of its most prized vineyard. Fortunately, authorities eventually caught the criminal, Jacques Soltys.
10. It’s often the focus of counterfeiting
Because DRC’s wines are so difficult to obtain they’re often subject to imitation – the most notable case being that of Rudy Kurniawan, who earned the nickname ‘Dr Conti’ after his abundant production of counterfeit fine wines. He’s now serving a 10-year prison sentence in the United States.
Burgundy Wine Investment Guide 2020
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