Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Wine: When Tasting a [Pounds Sterling]1,500 Bottle, What's There to Say, except "Damned Good"?

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Wine: When Tasting a [Pounds Sterling]1,500 Bottle, What's There to Say, except "Damned Good"?

Article excerpt

My Cambridge tutor, Dr Laurence Picken, was a bachelor don of the old school, an established scholar in the fields of biochemistry, cytology, musicology, Chinese, Slavonic studies and ethnomusicology; a world authority on Turkish musical instruments, Bach cantatas, ancient Chinese science and the reproduction of cells. He was also a modest man who listened quietly to your opinion before gently leading you to see that it was total rubbish. One day he confided to me that there is, in his view, only one grower who can distil the Burgundian soil and its ancient vines into their essence, and that is the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.

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In this, as in most things, Dr Picken's opinion was also knowledge. And gradually the wine trade has come to concur. This domaine, with its four acres of ancient vines, prayed over for centuries by the monks of St Vivant, is now recognised, following seven centuries of mortal determination and divine intervention, as the greatest vineyard on the Cote d'Or. Corney & Barrow has exclusive UK rights to the product and, in gratitude for my self-sacrificing labour in drinking so many of the firm's lesser vintages, finally did the decent thing and invited me to a tasting of the six Romanee-Conti reds (the domaine owns five neighbouring parcels in Vosne-Romanee) from 2000. I sat among silent, long-faced Masters of Wine, in a room of hospital aspect, listening to the wine as it slurped and gurgled around those distinguished gullets, to be suddenly and peremptorily spat into the sink--a hundred quid's worth with every gob! …

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