DRC Grands Echézeaux ’78: Parting the Feathers (Part II of DRC tasting)

Vintage wine tasting in Silicon Valley, part deux: One of the wines at the aforementioned DRC tasting inspired the elaboration below.

Nugget to know:

When the stars align, wine can become something more than mere fermented grape juice.

vintage wineProducer: Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (Burgundy, France)
Wine: Grands Echézeaux
Vintage: 1978
Cost: priceless
Track it down: www.usmint.gov

Burgundy can be like a 1920’s feather dancer whose charms cajole, tempt, promise, but are maddeningly just out of sight. But the DRC Grands Echézeaux 1978 achieves the unachievable: it parts the feathers and allows a straight gape into the divine.

It is the “You are Here” of where fine wine becomes more than just fine wine. It creates a disjunction of experience, portaling the taster from the merely extraordinary to the supernal. After the wine is gone, even the lonely residue in the glass haunts the soul.

The aroma has a glowing intensity that rendered the other wines on the table, even a normally compelling Comte De Vogüé Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru 1997, blurred, indistinct, mortal. The first whiff of the DRC slays you with aromas found nowhere else. “How does this happen?” you wonder, breathing in Asian spices, rose petals, stewed prunes, and tilled soil. The combined effect is at once ferocious and finessed, a vinous Valhalla that astonishes the senses.
The texture combines the silk of a thousand spiders with a pleasurable grip on the palate. So commanding is this sensation that it remains tattooed on your tongue after you have drained your glass and brought your lucky bones home to bed. The next morning, it is still there — a final fading marker of having parted the feathers to witness, however briefly, divinity divined.


Learning One’s DRC’s (Part I of DRC tasting)

Wine tasting in Silicon Valley: On a recent visit to Silicon Valley, I had the good fortune to attend a tasting of various vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche and Richebourg bottlings (’78, ’85, ’90, ’93) as well as other Burgundian treats. This surreal sampling of priceless gems provided a glimpse of life atop the Everest of vinous experience.

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For the uninitiated, three nuggets to know:

1) Domaine de la Romanée Conti is the ne plus ultra producer of red Burgundy and one of the world’s marquee names in wine.

2) The finest bottlings of mature Burgundy taste like nothing like your garden variety New World Pinot Noir (the sole grape comprising red Burgundy), instead offering a shifting kaleidoscope of berries, violets, rose petals, smoke, bacon, earth, and Asian spices.

3) Not every DRC selection we tasted lived up to the the producer’s aura and the wine’s astronomical price tag, proving that a wine’s deliciousness is not always corrolated with its prestige.  For example, the 1993 Richebourg, at least at this point in its development, had a somewhat muted nose and considerable tannic astrigency.  On the other hand, the 1978 La Tâche and the 1978 Richebourg were, well, simply electrifying, as was the 1985 Richebourg and the 1990, and the…

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