Humberto's Article: The Taste of Perfection

February 28th, 2012

The world behind the mystery of the Great White Sharks is so big that we could write a book about it. There is a huge load of desire, aspiration, passion and elitism. Why critics give 100 points to a wine instead of 99 is an ocean of doubt and subjectivity. 

I understand that a perfect wine has to come from a small production, a great “cru,” a renowned winemaker, a great vintage, has to have an amazing, powerful and complex nose, and a huge intensity, structure, balance and mid palate…and it must have the emotional factor, “the soul.” The price for these wines is normally high, and gets much higher after they are scored 100.

I am a very lucky man in many ways, and one of them is that I have great friends who love to share their wines...and they like good wines. I have tasted many 100-pointers in my life, and I can remember how each of them tasted and how I felt. They have been amazing and memorable, but I have always ended with a minimum feeling of emptiness.

Last Monday I was in my office, thinking it was going to be just another Monday. Then my cell rings and Adrian, my pal and partner, asks me if I can have dinner on Wednesday, because we are going to taste a monumental wine shared by another friend, Ricardo. I was flying to Valle de Guadalupe that Wednesday, so I sadly said I was going to miss it. These heroic guys arranged to move dinner to that same glorious Monday.

The wine in question was a DRC Romanee Conti 1997. It was the first time in my life that I tasted perfection. I was very careful to set aside all the emotions, feelings and snobbism that can wrap the event. Believe me, neither Adrian nor Ricardo has a gram of snobbism.

It was just three friends dining and enjoying life around a bottle of wine…well actually three. We also had J Drouhin Chablis Grand Cru “Vaudesir” 2003 and Chateau Cos D’Estournel 2001, which were very honorable openers.

The wine was decanted and we tasted it during two hours. I know this wine is on the top, and that demand in the world has put its price up above in the stratosphere. So I tasted it in the most possible objective way, putting aside the price factor.

Powerful nose, extremely clean, with aromas of violets, leather, graphite, currant and cedar on the initial phase. The palate was the purest definition of elegance, structure and infinite finish, seamless. Fresh raspberries and strawberries covered by coffee and cedar came with the aftertaste. After 30 minutes, the nose evolved to a room full of red flowers with the green stem, almond oil and a fresh peppermint background. The palate just got silky and sexy, long and serious. 

At the same time that I tasted and enjoyed, I couldn’t stop thinking about how small and special this vineyard is, and the degree of expertise and experience the winemaker has, in order to respect the fruit and terroir so masterfully, not to mention the invisible but very present work of barrel ageing.

I don’t know what the score would be if I had to rate this wine. I only know that Romanee Conti 1997 is a wine that is perfect, and that I will remember it until the day I die. 

Humberto Falcon lives in Monterrey, Mexico. He sells wine through his company The Little Wine Market and makes wine in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, including One Wine One World and El Sueno.


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