2002 Romanée St Vivant, Cathiard

We have a pretty exceptional list here at Renaissance Vintners.  Of course we would say that, but who else has a list like ours, with wines all physically in the UK, stored professionally in Octavian, Vinothèque and London City Bond.  Our relationships with some of the UK’s most important collectors has blessed us with access to some of the very best wines ever made.

So: here’s the question.  What is the best wine on our list, or the rarest?  It’s a tough one.

Some obvious candidates would be wines like 2000 Château Pétrus, Pomerol.  It’s got the 100 points for a start.  And it’s Pétrus, and it’s from the 2000 vintage, one of Bordeaux’s finest, and one that is just beginning to show its class.  Late last year we had an experience with 1990 Pétrus which is best described as a theophany.  Will the 2000 match it?  Another ten years in bottle and we can find out.  This is probably the case of wine I’d buy first if one of my silly multiples on the horses comes in.

But in terms of rarity, even 2000 Pétrus isn’t really at the top.  2,500 cases or so made and, whilst no one knows how many of those cases have been drunk, it’s fair to speculate that there is a fair bit left.  It’s not difficult to find, just expensive.

We’ve also got a few bottles of 2007 Le Montrachet, Lafon - this is arguably a candidate for one of the finest dry white wines in the world, the other runners and riders being the same wine from DRC, Chevalier-Montrachet Leflaive, Corton-Charlemagne Coche-Dury (this one is probably the rarest) and some might argue that Haut-Brion Blanc should be in the running too.

Lafon’s Montrachet is also rare:  the domain’s spot of Le Montrachet amounts to just 0.32 hectares.  It is in one whole plot, at the bottom left-hand corner of the vineyard, just next to the plot owned by Romanée-Conti.  The vines are old – 80% of the vineyard was planted in 1953, the remaining 20% in 1972, and yields are very low – enough for three or four barrels – depending on the year.

But the wine on our list that is arguably the most intriguing, and quite possibly the rarest, is Sylvain Cathiard’s 2002 Romanée St Vivant.

Domaine Cathiard have just 0.17 hectares of Romanée St Vivant, that they acquired in 1984.  It lies just next to the edge of the village, between the plots of Dujac and Arnoux.  Depending on the year it yields enough juice for two or three barrels.

Back in 2002, Sylvain Cathiard was just coming out from under the radar, and the domaine was on the road to superstar status.  It wasn’t quite in the position it is in now, where the chances of getting a full case of RSV must be minimal.

We think we have the only full case of this wine available for sale in Europe and, quite possibly, the world.  The bottles intrigue.  Notes on the wine are rare.  Allen meadows tasted it in 2008 and, whilst his score of 94 points is typically conservative, he does write “this is one of the best wines of the vintage and while it is rare and expensive, don’t hesitate if you find it.”  Clive Coates rates the wine 19.5, just behind 2002 La Romanée.

Is this the best or rarest, or a combination of the two?  It’s not quite a unicorn wine yet, but it’s just one of many wines on our list that intrigue on account of its undoubted quality, clear rarity and exceptional provenance.  Any takers?