In his book The Pearl of the Côte, Allen Meadows reflects on his history with Burgundy, and specifically with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC). Meadows says that his love of Burgundy began in 1978, when he tried his first bottle of 1967 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. At the time, it was the best bottle of Burgundy that Meadows had ever had–in fact, the wine was so elegant and delicious that he decided to pay a visit to Burgundy to discover more of these beautiful wines. He says, “I was 23 years of age, but I was smitten: that wine inspired a burning desire in me to go and see the land and people that had made it.”
Meadows is far from alone in his love of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. Although this offering from DRC tends to garner less attention than the estate’s flagship Romanée-Conti label or La Tâche, its unique personality and overall quality make it an excellent investment for Burgundy collectors. With its powerful flavor profile and incredible potential for aging, DRC Richebourg will certainly earn its place in your cellar.
DRC Richebourg’s Unique Flavor Profile
At a tasting event put on by a restaurant a few years ago, a friend of mine had the opportunity to try a flight of 2000 DRC wines, including Échézeaux, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Grands Échézeaux, and Richebourg. Of these four, the Richebourg stood out to him the most; it had the greatest power and complexity. He was so impressed with the Richebourg’s bold character that he began investing more heavily in this label; today he owns nearly a dozen Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg bottles, including vintages as old as 1959.
Richebourg tends to be more tannic and acidic than other DRC labels and it can take years for the tannins to soften and acidity to fully integrate and become more finessed.
When you ask collectors what initially attracted them to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg, many will tell you that the wine has a particularly powerful flavor profile. DRC is known for producing wines of great finesse and elegance; however, the estate’s Richebourg is more muscular and attention-grabbing than Romanée-Saint-Vivant or La Tâche. While the DRC estate has undoubtedly produced elegant Richebourg vintages, many of these wines come across as aggressive in their youth. This is because Richebourg tends to be more tannic and acidic than other DRC labels and it can take years for the tannins to soften and acidity to fully integrate and become more finessed.
The reason DRC Richebourg is so much more powerful than the estate’s other wines is mostly due to the terroir in which it’s grown. The label is made from grapes grown in two distinct parcels of Richebourg: Les Véroilles and Les Richebourgs. Situated farther north, the Véroilles parcel is cooler and grapes grown here take longer to ripen than grapes grown in Les Richebourgs. As a result, this area produces grapes with higher acidity than those grown in the more southerly Les Richebourgs. The combination of grapes from the two parcels produces DRC Richebourg’s trademark powerful, concentrated wines, which in good years take two decades or more to show their true potential.
Aging Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg is one of the longest-lived wines in Burgundy. Many collectors make the mistake of drinking this wine too early, which can negatively impact their view of the label as a whole. When one of my colleagues tried Richebourg for the first time, she wasn’t impressed because the bottle was still very young. She found the wine to be lively and rich, but she didn’t enjoy the assertive acidity; she preferred DRC’s other labels, which often show better while still young. I encouraged her to give the Richebourg another chance and try an older vintage that had spent more time in professional storage. After having tried a few older vintages, including the excellent 1990, and discovering how beautifully these wines develop and soften over time, DRC Richebourg is now one of her favorite Burgundy bottlings.
If you plan on reselling your wine, cellar your bottles for a minimum of 15 years, as this is the amount of time it takes for them to begin to mature.
Perhaps the best quality of DRC Richebourg is that the wine is able to mature without entirely losing its youthful energy or power. When critic Allen Meadows tried a magnum of 1959 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg in 2005, he described the wine as having “rich, seductive, mouth-coating and velvety medium-full flavours, all wrapped in a superbly long finish underpinned by mostly, if not completely, resolved tannins.” Although the wine had already been in storage for nearly 45 years, it still had more aging potential when Meadows tasted it and it remains a great investment wine to this day. If you plan on buying recent vintages of DRC Richebourg to drink, Meadows suggests keeping them in storage for 20 to 25 years before opening them. If you plan on reselling your wine, cellar your bottles for a minimum of 15 years, as this is the amount of time it takes for them to begin to mature.
Vintage Quality Makes a Difference in DRC Richebourg
Weather conditions often have a greater impact on the quality of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg than the estate’s other labels. For example, while you can trust that DRC’s flagship wine La Romanée-Conti will be high in quality even when weather conditions are challenging in Burgundy, you shouldn’t assume the same for the Richebourg label. This is because the estate’s Les Véroilles parcel is especially sensitive to changes in the weather. Cooler-than-usual temperatures in Les Véroilles can result in very under-ripe grapes and a delay of up to ten days for the harvest. In general, the very best DRC Richebourg vintages were produced under warmer conditions. Lesser vintages of Richebourg can still be delicious, however, and sometimes give a better sense of the terroir than great vintages do.
The following are the highest-quality recent vintages for Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg:
All of the vintages above will likely age beautifully over the decades and will need at least another five to 15 years in storage before they begin to mature.
Investing in and Storing Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg
The aging potential of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg makes it the ideal choice for collectors who love the process of buying a wine while it’s young and patiently waiting for it to mature in a cellar. However, because DRC Richebourg takes more than a decade to come into its own, I recommend keeping this wine under professional storage conditions so that you won’t be tempted to uncork it too early. Likewise, while DRC Richebourg isn’t quite as lucrative an investment as the flagship La Romanée-Conti label or La Tâche, you can still make a decent profit from your bottles when you store them professionally for an extended period of time–Richebourg tends to sell for around $3,000 per bottle, and this value can double over the course of the bottle’s lifetime, depending on vintage quality. Whether you want to lay down bottles to drink at a later date or you prefer to sell your bottles on the secondary market for a profit, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg is a powerful wine that is well worth a little extra cellar time.
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 finest wine.