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A Once-in-a-Lifetime Wine



Okay, don't hate me. As a member of the wine press, I have to do a lot of odious things: taste vile boxed wines, write tasting notes about wines I don't like, cut my fingers while removing the foil of Champagne bottles and search endlessly for shops that sell the wines I really want to write about. [Ed.: Life’s tough, Mackay.] So it's only fair that once in a while I get to do something fun.

Last week, the fun lay in getting an invitation to drive up to St. Helena and the offices of the extraordinary importer Wilson Daniels to taste the even-more-extraordinary 2005 vintage from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, arguably the world's greatest wine producer. It was an honor just to be invited and worth the white-knuckled drive up through driving rain, as I struggled to keep the windshield unfogged and the car from hydroplaning on flooded highways.

But the wines were worth it. The reds are made of Pinot Noir grapes from Grand Cru–rated vineyards; the one white comes from Montrachet, the greatest single vineyard of any grape or wine in the world. Particularly alluring to my palate were the amazing Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, and Romanée-St.-Vivant, followed only slightly by Richebourg, Grands Echézeaux and Echézeaux. The Montrachet was mind-blowing. Rich and round and lush, on the one hand, like a California wine, it was saturated with a minerality you wouldn't believe. It was the collision of opposites, with beautiful results.

It's quite possible that I might never taste some of these wines again, as the 2005 vintage will be one of the most coveted and expensive wines on record for "the Domaine" (as rich wine hipsters call it). If you love Burgundy and ever get a chance to taste one of these—do everything you can to make it happen.