I lost my Domaine de la Romane virginity this past December at the Zachy’s pre-DRC auction dinner held at Restaurant Daniel. Yes, it was an orgy. Yes, it was worth it. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Seated at my table were Forbes’ ‘inimitable’ Alan Farnham, Zachy's irascible Ned Benedict and adorable Christin Wingo. The wise Paul Roberts from the French Laundry attended as did Mr. Burgundy himself, Daniel Johness and dapper Robert Bohr, Wine director of Cru—who by the end of the night got my vote for MVP.
At these kinds of bacchanals the faster wines come at me, the tipsier I get, the more regressive my wine notes, the more incomprehensible my penmanship. While I rarely get sloshed, at an event as precious as this, slosh is forgivable though still embarrassing.
The night kicked off auspiciously with DRC’s Le Montrachet, 1987, one of the giddiest white Burgundies ever to slide down the gullet. It had a riveting element of deep, blushed apricot, toffeed butterscotch and finish that just kept on going on and on with intact lilting acidity. The ’91 DRC Montrachet which appeared out of nowhere (hm, I think supplied by Johness?) was a neurotically nervous wine, and not near ready to drink. Ms. Wingo offered up a 1971 Grange as an off-beat palate cleanser. I have had the misfortune to taste the newer Granges made after wine manipulation was brought to a high art in Australia. I now understand the reverence the wine gets, or used to get. Here is depth and character Aussie style. There is a cabernet-ish earth and twig with a nice dose of old nag horse from the syrah.
Robert Bohr, bless his heart, lugged a magnum of 1989 DRC Grands chzeaux . However he made me beg for it, scolding me to have patience. Waiting was easier than I expected when Daniel Boulud, big smile on his face, plomped down next to me and offered me a taste of the 1966 Romane Conti in his glass, which came from the prestigious table where Robert M. Parker, Jr., was sitting. Pretty fascinating stuff: a dash of Tabasco and red pepper as well. Then it was all a tumble and jumble of spice box of allspice, nutmeg, like sticking my tongue inside a cinnamon stick. A west coast young man with a big cellar, pretty famous with this bunch, unknown to me and I to him, came around holding a '99 DRC chzeaux by the neck. Yes, this is the least grand holding of DRC, but still, why would any one be so cavalier as to open this bottle with only five years of age? Only a guy with more to burn in their cellar, and this thought does bring out envy in me and makes me wonder how I get to be his new best friend. I admit it was drinking gorgeously but it was such a shame the bottle was too young to die.
I finally prevailed upon Mr. Bohr to pour me a small sample from his big magnum. Thank you Robert. I was and am very appreciative. Shortly thereafter, something odd happened. Mr. Farnham, with no compunction about leaving wines behind he never tasted and probably will never again taste in his lifetime, sprinted for a train. In classic greener grass syndrome, everyone except for Ned went in search of other wines they could sneak tastes of—the La Tches, Richebourgs, St. Vivants, Grands chzeaux out there as well as the Roumiers and Ponsots, the 1947 Lafleurs and the 1971 Haut Brions—I was suddenly alone with Ned and the magnum which hung out on the table lonely as a girl in search of a waltz partner. I continued to torture Ned with questions and nurse my private bottle.
I've gotten a little wiser about some things in my life, one of them is that when the mag of 1989 Grands chzeaux appears on your table in need of attention, give it to her. And when you spill your second glass of wine of the night, quickly teeter off in your heels to the coat check before you're in danger of not walking a straight line.