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VDEWS 2014 : Tasting Beats the others Cold, When DRC Pours it ON

Posted: Monday, 08 December 2014 11:04

VDEWS 2014 : Tasting Beats the others Cold, When DRC Pours it ON

Dec 08: The 6th edition of Villa d’Este Wine Symposium held at Villa d’Este between November 6-9 saw the delegates participate in three optional super premium tastings every evening besides tasting scores of high quality wines and reaching an ecstatic crescendo with a never-before tasting of four DRC Grand Cru wines each from Romanée-Conti going back to 1961 and the Grand Cru Montrachet as old as 1982, writes Subhash Arora who was privileged to taste 10 wines at this unique tasting

Click For Large ViewIf you registered for the annual Villa d’Este Wine Symposium (VDEWS), previously known as WWS (World Wine Symposium) last month, you might have been shocked at first sight, learning about the price of the third optional tasting of DRC wines to be presented on the last evening. The Grand-mother of all tastings was priced at €2000- more than twice that of tastings on the previous two evenings and more than ever before at this symposium, even for the wines of the most prestigious Burgundy producer, Domaine de la Romanée Conti (DRC) in Vosne- Romanée village. Consider that on the previous evening the similar tasting of wines from the first growth of Bordeaux, Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau Mission Haut Brion presented personally by the owner, Prince Robert of Luxembourg saw a full house shell out less than half the amount!

There must have been a reason why the 50 seats were not only sold out at this price but 20 more seats had to be created just for this tasting. ‘Many people were excited about this tasting and conveyed that they would register for the conference only if they would get the privilege of attending it,’ says Francois Mauss, the event organiser.

Click For Large ViewWines showcased by Aubert de Villaine, co-owner and winemaker of DRC and who is one of the 5 Godfathers of the Symposium and a regular visitor to the VDEWS every year, included the Romanée-Conti Grand Cru 2001, 1991,1971, 1961 and Montrachet (white)- Grand Cru 2002, 1997,1991, 1982.

What can one say about a Tasting that starts with not one but two Mise-en bouche wines that mesmerise you and set you up for what is soon to come in the pre-poured wines! Romanée Saint Vivant 2006 and Echézeaux 2006- both costing around € 900-1000 a bottle, were stars in their own right! One wondered while tasting, about the uniqueness of the estate using practically no de-stemming. And the 57- acre wonder that makes all the connoisseurs of the world take note of every estate bottle that is opened!

No wonder the Veranda Room where the Prestige Tastings are conducted saw a full house of 70 wine connoisseurs intently and quietly swirling and tasting these two wines, followed by 4 vintages of one of their most well regarded Grand Cru Vineyard-Romanée Conti, one of the total 11 such vineyards in Burgundy. DRC has a presence in all of them- albeit only 4.4 acres in this iconic Click For Large Viewvineyard site. I say ‘intently’- because many were just overawed with the different and rare vintages-2001, 1991, 1971 and 1961. And ‘quietly’ because no one is allowed to talk but focus on the liquid inside each of the glasses where all 10 wines were pre-poured.

The 1961 was still almost as lively and fresh as the 2001 which was otherwise very young. The wines had a common denominator – the seductive perfume of rose petals. The shade of spiciness was visible as I kept wondering about how beautiful and engaging the 55 year old beauty was. But 1971 was my pick out of these four outstanding wines from Burgundy being tasted here-smooth, silky sexy, seductive and rather warm on the palate –and still young, sure to entice many a wine lover for decades to come.

Click For Large ViewAs I wondered why the white Montrachet was being tasted after the reds, my thoughts took me to many wine competitions where there seems to be a new trend to taste reds before whites. I marvelled at the effort it took for Francois to carry all the bottles personally in his car in three trips (the wine requirement kept on increasing all the time, he says) directly from the Cellar to Villa d’Este and convincing Aubert to part with the rarities each time. Imagine the provenance of these wines!

The Montrachet Grand Cru whites- 2002, 1997, 1991 and 1982 were very balanced, well structured with smooth texture and elegant with medium body and displaying none of the storage and aging problems faced by many lesser Burgundy vintners. They were all deliciously elegant. But it was 1982 that totally bowled me over because of its minerality, spiciness and smokiness, freshness and vivacious character- a remarkable feat for a 32 year old white beauty.

As is customary at these tastings, after all the 10 wines were tasted and presented, Francois allowed the questions to be fielded from the audience many of whom seemed to be still in a trance. Click For Large ViewEach had some aspect to glorify the wines tasted and pay tributes to DRC and Aubert the Winemaker. But for the two Indian delegates at the tasting- KK Venugopal and Parag Tripathi, senior Supreme Court lawyers, it was a once-in-a lifetime wine experience and till this day they reminisce about it as the highlight of the Symposium.

With such reverence for the wines and the winemaker of DRC, one would expect Aubert de Villaine to be snooty and snobbish. Far from it- he was as humble and reserved as every year I have met and talked with him in the past at the VDWES/WWS since 2009. In fact, I couldn’t resist asking this legendary operatic tenor Pavarotti of Burgundy wines how he could remain so humble. His answer,’ I am just a caretaker of the vineyards and land. No matter what and who we are, we can be humbled any time by nature which shows its prowess at every vintage, and in the process giving us challenges and wines with different character year after year,’ touched my heart.

I’d say Amen to that!

Subhash Arora

The heading of this Article was inspired by an old jingle from a soft drink producer many moons ago-editor

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Tags: Villa d’Este Wine Symposium, Villa d’Este, DRC Grand Cru, Romanée-Conti, Grand Cru Montrachet, VDEWS, World Wine Symposium, Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Francois Mauss, Burgundy, Aubert de Villaine



Robin Woodhouse Says:

Thank you Subhash, for this wonderful glimpse of the wines and the man

Posted @ December 11, 2014 17:40


Subhash Arora Says:


I am sure you will get a chance Ajit. You have full life of tasting wines ahead of you. Subhash Arora

Posted @ December 08, 2014 17:30


Ajit Balgi Says:

Incredible, mouthwatering history in the glass... Someday I will!

Posted @ December 08, 2014 17:00


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