The 1929 DRC Les Gaudichots is the kind of wine that even the most seasoned of critics and collectors are afraid to open. One critic said that he always wanted to buy this wine, but he didn’t have the funds on his own to invest in it. He eventually split the cost with a friend; however, there was one problem: they didn’t know what to do with the wine now that they had it. Since the wine is both difficult to find and costs an astronomical amount of money, they wanted to wait until the perfect opportunity to drink it. That opportunity eventually came when DRC co-owner Aubert de Villaine offered to sample the wine with them over dinner. You know that you have a true unicorn wine when you refuse to drink it until the actual owner of the estate is present!
Yes, this wine is rare and highly valuable, but what makes it truly worthwhile for collectors is its deep connection to modern La Tache. If you’ve ever invested in La Tache, 1929 DRC Les Gaudichots will not only remind you of the vineyard’s superb taste, it will complete your collection.
A Hidden La Tache
DRC’s 1929 La Gaudichots doesn’t bear the name “La Tache” on its label, but it is nonetheless a true La Tache. Cherry red, intensely aromatic, and with the taste of sweet red fruit, critics compare this early DRC to the rich wines made by this tiny vineyard today–the only difference is the name on the label. Before 1932, the La Tache vineyard was far smaller than it is today, taking up just 1.4 hectares of space (compared to 5 hectares in 2016). Its neighbor, the Les Gaudichots vineyard (owned by DRC), had a similar terroir and also produced high-quality grapes. Because the two terroirs were so similar, DRC petitioned to merge them together in the 1930s. They wanted their Premier Cru wine to be relabeled as Grand Cru, since it could compete in flavor with the best Grand Cru wines of the time.
However, original La Tache owners Liger-Belair hated this idea; the estate wanted La Tache to remain small and stay in their hands alone. In 1932, French wine officials disagreed, and Liger-Belair officially lost their fight against the merge. La Tache instantly gained about 3 ½ hectares. Most of Les Gaudichots transferred over to La Tache except for the few areas that were deemed lower than Grand Cru in quality. This is why when you taste DRC Les Gaudichots prior to 1932, the wine is both higher in quality and more intense in flavor than Les Gaudichots of today.
Price of Admission
This vintage of Les Gaudichots has sold for as much as $21,000 per bottle in the past, and the price is expected to grow exponentially as the wine reaches its 100th birthday. The price justification comes down to two factors: rarity and vintage. This was a rare wine from the start, since DRC only produced a limited number of cases. Now that the wine has been sitting in storage for almost 90 years, it is even rarer; most bottles have long been consumed by now, or haven’t been stored in the best of conditions. To find a quality, unopened bottle is a stroke of luck on the market, and calls for a high price to match. The 1929 is also considered the vintage of the century, which is also reflected in its price. Burgundy, in particular, produced wines that have exceeded all expectations for their longevity in both 1928 and 1929, so if you see Grand Cru wines from either of these years, it’s well worth your investment.
To Drink, or Not to Drink
With 1929 DRC Les Gaudichots, the question is not whether to invest, but whether to drink the wine. Many unicorn wines have this “problem,” yet Les Gaudichots is an extreme example. It’s so old at this point that it’s possible for some bottles to have exceeded their prime. On the other hand, how often do you get the chance to drink an almost century-old wine?
Based on multiple critic reviews over the past 10 years, it seems that drinking 1929 Les Gaudichots is the way to go for most collectors. Sommelier Michael Madrigale says this was one of the best wines he has ever opened, and he feels lucky for having had the opportunity to sample it. Years ago, he was helping out at a wine event in Aspen when he received a text from a sommelier friend inviting him to a special wine tasting at a private home. When he arrived, he says, “I saw the bottle of ‘29 Gaudichots and my jaw dropped.” He never expected to see one of these wines in person, since they are so difficult to find. He later found out that it was part of socialite and famous wine collector Doris Duke’s collection. In the 1920s, she was meticulous about storing her wines in an airtight meat locker, and as a result, her wines are almost always worth drinking a century or more later.
The key to determining whether to drink this wine or resell it comes down to storage. If you’re not sure about the storage conditions, resell the wine within the next five years or so, however, if you can determine that the wine was stored well, I recommend drinking this wine and keeping the bottle as a trophy. DRC’s Les Gaudichots is one of those rare unicorns that is almost as valuable empty as it is full, so either way, you’ll be making the correct choice.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s best wine.
Image by Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ryan has worked in every restaurant capacity from bartender to management, and in wine distribution as a consultant and advisor to Chicago’s most elite restaurants and retailers. As a new member of Vinfolio’s Executive Fine Wine Specialists, he is thrilled to share his expertise and passion for wine. Outside of the office, he can be found learning to cultivate vines in the garden, with a glass of White Burgundy in hand, or hiking with his wife and dogs.