An adventure as I cherish them, with two RC DRC

I love when adventures occur in my life that I did not imagine. As I have been welcomed in this forum, I will try now and then to talk about such adventures.

This story has not been well accepted in a French forum, because it gave an occasion to some members of the forum to say that they are largely more generous than I am.
I hope I will not meet such reactions.

The story is so out of my imagination that I think it is worth being told.

One day, a journalist whom I have met once calls me on the phone. He says that he is making a film on Romanée Conti, and that he has had the permission of Aubert de Villaine to do it. Aubert tries to protect the image of Romanée Conti, which is normal, and does not give easily such permissions.

The journalist tells me : “I would like that the film, which is designed to be shown to a large public, as a long movie, begins by images of someone drinking a Romanée Conti, “the” Romanée Conti. I have thought that no one would be as justified as you to comment Romanée Conti on a film”.

Jean de la Fontaine, a French poet and writer of the 17th century has written a fable : “the crow and the fox”. The crow has a cheese in its mouth and through flattery, the fox succeeds in letting the crow drop the cheese.
So, the warning lamp gets lit when I listen to flattery.

And to show that there is no romanticism in our discussion I answer immediately : “have you a budget”. Because I imagine the scene : I open a Romanée Conti, and the only one with whom I could share it would be the journalist who would drink for free a RC. And I do not want to make it so easy for this journalist.
His answer is extremely direct : “I have no budget”.

We talk, I try to avoid any precise answer, and then he says that the co-sponsor of the film is a Japanese TV network, and he says : “have you a Japanese friend with whom you would share a Romanée Conti?”.
He thought probably that it would be a problem for me and to his surprise, I said : “I have a lunch today with him. I will ask him if he wants to participate to this project”.

By a true hazard, my wife and I we had booked a table at restaurant Laurent and invited a Japanese friend, let us call him Tomo, and his wife, to prepare a trip that we would make together in Japan. Tomo is a wine lover, with whom I have shared very great bottles.
When we had our lunch, I asked him if he would accept to be filmed drinking a RC, and I told him : as a RC represents a budget, would you agree to share the cost of the bottle, as we will drink it not through an invitation, but on duty, for a film.

And my Japanese friend had a fantastic answer which was the origin of this great event. He said : “no problem of money. I will bring another RC”.

On the French forum, many people found that I was not generous by asking my Japanese friend to share the cost of a bottle. They would – of course – had been more generous than me. Let us put this aspect aside.

I phoned the journalist, and I told him which solution we had decided. In his voice, I noticed that he was a little disappointed that a solution could be found so easily.

He told me that he had chosen the three stars restaurant Le Grand Véfour of Guy Martin to make this part of the film, and said that it would be at 9 am, when there is no rush within the place.

The fact to drink a RC at 9 am does not belong to my dreams. So, as astute as a fox, I reserved a table for lunch at Grand Véfour for the same day, and I told it to my friend.

The two RC had been put in the cellar of Grand Véfour one week before the event, and when I arrived, I wanted to open the two bottles to let the wines breathe. But the journalist wanted to film the opening and he had a script of some scenes preceding that : the Japanese friend and I walking in the gardens of Palais Royal, and so on.

At one moment I became nervous and said : I want to open the wines.
When we sat to be filmed commenting the wines, the wines were freshly opened, rather cool. Would the magic of Romanée Conti be there, being drunk cool and with palates not still awaken ?

The two wines are completely different. The RC 1996 has a wild youth made of acidic fruit, red fruit and rose’s petals. The RC 1986 has a nose which shows more evolution, with autumn leaves and the salt which is so characteristic of the wines of DRC. The colours are also different : the 1996 is deep black cherries and the 1986 is clearer, with some orange suggestions.

In mouth, the two wines behave like in a sophisticated strip tease. Because by each new drop, the charm increases. More and more the magic of Romanée Conti invades the room. And we have two versions of this legendary wine : the prepubescent young, and the greybeard. If the two millesimes are distant by ten years, the tastes are distant by twenty years.

Does it mean that the 1986 is tired ? Absolutely not. When I ask Tomo which one he prefers, both of us we answer that it is impossible to determine which one is the best. The 1986 is more authentic RC and the 1996 is a magnificent promise.

Tomo asked me if in ten years the 1996 would be as the 1986 and my opinion is that in ten years, the 1996 will appear ten years younger than the 1986 today. Because its potential of youth is immense.

In my ideas, after talking half an hour about these two wines, the subject would be finished. But at noon, we were still there. We have talked and talked about the two wines. What was comic is that Tomo talked in Japanese language, for the interest of the film, and as we had a dialog, a translator was there to tell me afterwards what Tomo had said. But while being filmed, I behaved as if I understood everything of what Tomo said, making faces as if all was clear for me.

To summarise briefly what we said about the wines, the RC 1996 has the traditional rose petals and has red and black fruits. It has finesse, elegance and delicacy. The final never ends.
The RC 1986 is more Burgundy. It is salty like an oyster shell. It has elegance but on a more cosy form, and if the final is very long, it is more calm.

And the question which is normal to answer is : “do these wines represent something which is really above the other wines?”. And my personal answer is the one of the Spanish country inn : “what you get out of it depends on what you put in”.

The one who will say “this wine is not worth the money which is required” is right, because he is in this mood. The one who is prepared to welcome the RC will see the precision of the drawing, the finesse of the different layers of subtlety. And it is sure that Tomo and I we were prepared for the best, and we had the best.

We gave some glasses of the wines to the journalist and his team and to the translator, and they left us to have lunch. Tomo was accompanied by his wife who was there since the beginning of the film.

To relax our palate we drank a Champagne Comtes de Champagne Taittinger 1998 which was exactly what we needed to prepare our palates for the meal.

On “ravioles de foie gras, crème foisonnée truffée”, the 1996 was absolutely brilliant, shining ten times more than drunk alone, and the 1986 went on strike, probably finding that the course was not for it.

On the “pigeon Prince Rainier III”, the 1996 shut itself and the 1986 shone magnificently. The two played like in a dance, letting the other wine be the star for one course and the contrary for another course.

The more time flew, the greater the two wines were. Gastronomy is made for these wines, largely better on food.
The 1986 is more authentic, the 1996 is an enormous promise.

When Tomo and I we looked on the table at the two bottles of Romanée Conti that we had shared the two of us, as his wife does not drink (as mine), we were happy to be so crazy.

Thanks for sharing Francois. You are probably one of the few people in the world that could fulfill such a request - drinking a DRC with a Japanese friend.

What kind of movie were they making, some kind of documentary?

What a great story François! Thanks for sharing. How lucky the director and his team gets to share a glass with you and your friend! Any idea when the film is expected to be released? Would love to catch it.

-James

Great story, thanks!

I think it’s fascinating that one wine went with the foie gras and the other went so well with the duck!

How lucky that your friend provided a bottle so that you had both with the meal!

In Japan there is a popular manga called “Kami no Shizuku” or “Drops of God” that romanticizes wine, especially French wines. Certainly this film will be popular there…

Francois,

I enjoyed that so much I read it four times. Thanks for sharing these stories and it is great to have you over here.

“like in a sophisticated strip tease. Because by each new drop, the charm increases. More and more the magic of Romanée Conti invades the room” Wonderful, and your story is even better for me as I have been lucky enough to have had the 96 RC. I can entirely relate to this description. Cheers Mike