Burgundy’s flagship estate has topped the charts of Sotheby auction house’s best-selling fine wine producers, at both retail and auction, for the third consecutive year.
Sotheby’s made US$60.4 million in total from fine wine sales in 2015 – a mere six bottles of 1990 DRC sold in Hong Kong for a whopping US$158,000.
Overall DRC sales rose 16% to US$10.3m and accounted for 17% of total wine sales. Burgundy in general saw a hike in sales from 26% to 40%, while Bordeaux dipped from 62% to 46%. According to Liv-ex, trade continues on the open market with a surge in high-value DRC purchases last week.
The star of collectible wine: a bit of history
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is considered one of the greatest, if not one of the most expensive, wine producers in the world. It takes its name from its most famous vineyard, Romanée-Conti, but is also home to holdings in La Tache, Richebourg, Romanée St. Vivant, Grands-Echezeaux, Echezeaux and Le Montrachet.
The estate’s history dates back to the Middle Ages – in 1232, the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne acquired the vineyard, and in 1631 it was bought by the de Croonembourg family, who renamed it Romanée for reasons unknown.
A century later, the Croonembourgs sold the vineyard to the Prince of Conti, who was forced to pay generously in order to outbid Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV. The vineyard hence acquired the name Romanée-Conti but, come the revolution, the land was soon seized and auctioned off.
Skipping forward to 1942, the estate fell under part-ownership of the Villaine and Leroy-Roch families as it continues to this day. It was only after the 1950s that the true potential of DRC began to be realised, with the difficulties of phyloxera, the First and Second World Wars left firmly behind.
Present day DRC: innovation and high-yield investment
DRC is currently run by Aubert de Villaine. In a 2014 interview with Wine Searcher, the co-owner stressed that there is still much work to be done.
“The most important thing is in the field. It’s never finished. It’s what we call ‘material vegetal.’ In the field, it’s essential to select every year new mother vines with the specific quality you want. This is something I started 25 years ago and is of course still going on – and where we can still make some progress.”
The estate has been organic since 1985, but they recently turned their hands to full-on biodynamic practices. “I realized it was the best way to be as close to the vineyard as possible, and for the vines to be most in harmony with nature,” he says.
DRC prices are quickly becoming the most extravagant on the market, outstripping even Bordeaux and attracting much attention from Asian investors. But it’s unlikely that Burgundy will ever ‘bubble’ like Bordeaux due to their incredibly small production levels – Romanée Conti only produces around 450 cases each year. Short supply and high demand will no doubt keep collectors on their toes for decades to come.
Buy DRC at Capital Vintners
As a leading UK fine wine merchants, we stock DRC at the most competitive prices. Get in touch with one of our diligent brokers for advice on which vintage, and when, to purchase.