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(DRC Romanee Conti) The next wine garnished lots of praise. There was a hint of gas at first, which blew off into aromas of melba toast and layers of cherry fruit. The cherry carried over to the palate, which was rich, hearty, big and dark. Hints of horse and animal were also present, and its tannins melted across its long, earthy finish. There was real power here, and its animal qualities were of a gamy goodness. Jim noted, ‘roasted pepper tomato coulis.’ It was clearly the best of the flight, as it should have been, since it was a 1919 DRC Romanee Conti. Hello, dolly (97).
(DRC Romanee Conti) …which brings me to my recent trip to LA and a quiet night with Dr. Conti and Mr. Wine Vegas, aka Gil. I suppose it never is a quiet night when Dr. Conti is on the scene, and I was soon reminded of this fact when he pulled out a trio of wines from his bag, beginning with a 1919 Romanee Conti. It was a 6cm fill bottle, a tad low by most standards, so Rudy figured it would be fun to try and test my newfound infatuation with low-fill Burgundies. This bottle was consistent with the ones that I have seen and sold over the past year; same glass, same branding on the cork, so that was good, but I must admit that I had a bit of trepidation as it was being opened. What if all these bottles were fake all along? Even I can get a bit paranoid, as I am sure some annoyed consignors will attest to. Then, something happened that I never saw before: the actual cork broke off with the neck of the bottle, as if it has been sabered open, a clean shot. The old glass, which had its share of nooks and crannies, was on the fragile side, which was another comforting sign. Now, came the true test. The nose was incredibly heady and saucy, with an amazing Worcestershire quality that jumped out of the glass, followed by this oily rose essence, earth, Versailles garden, tea, beef and bouillon. There was layer upon layer of complexity, typical of great old RC; Rudy admired, ‘you can smell and taste the energy of ungrafted vines,’ also noting that this was a bottle from the same batch he recently shared with Aubert de Villaine. The palate was rich and beefy, with lots of Worcestershire again and huge acidity. Gil finally chimed in with ‘raspberry acidity and hoisin.’ It was big out of the bottle but softened and mellowed with each sip, as very old wine is prone to do. Gil started to heat up, observing ‘pomegranite rusticness and stewed tomatoes.’ Rich and flavorful with additional bouillon, garden, rose and oil flavors, the 1919 saw its tannins melt away and rusty flavors emerge. I was right on that ‘6 star’ border, with Rudy being low six, but Rudy swayed my vote in the end. While there was incredible complexity and winegasmic action, I must warn that it was a thirty-minute wine and lost itself a bit after extended aeration, which is normal for many, very old wines. Hey, I hope I can last thirty minutes when I am age 88 lol
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