Having gotten into some of the California cult wines (unfortunately not literally), the biddies turn to some international cult-considered wines. Yes, we’ll talk about Domaine Romainee-Conti Grand Cru, which averages $25,378. But, we’ll also talk about some other options from Europe and elsewhere that you *might* actually be able to afford.

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Please note some of these notes may be directly copied and pasted from above sources.

Study notes for International Cult Wine:

FRANCE

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru, Burgundy (Average price: $25,378): This expensive wine is made from Pinot Noir grape varieties. It has raspberry aromas and red fruit flavors with subtle wine tasting notes of citrus. 

  • Exclusively use grand cru vineyards
    • They produce 8 wines total from 8 different plats
  • The largest landowner in each of the red-wine vineyards from which is produces its grand cru Burgundy
  • Burgundy is “the land of scarcity” meaning it produces a fraction of the output of other regions in France like Bordeaux
    • DRC produces only 6000-8000 cases a year of all their products
    • Only 5000 of that is the coveted Grand Cru
    • The vineyard used for this only covers 1.8 hectares
  • Entry level wine called “Corton” which still costs more than 1000 Euros
  • The first vintage of DRC was released in 1232
  • At a 2018 auction at Sotheby’s in NY a record price of $558,000 was paid for 1 bottle of 1945 DRC.
    • In that year, only 600 bottles of this cuvee were produced
  • Only a selected few can visit the wineries such as importers and wine journalists

Château Le Pin, Bordeaux (Average price: $4,078): This fine wine from the Chateau Le Pin winery is made from Merlot grapes. Any fine wine collector will love this drink for its full-bodied richness, dark fruit flavors, and cherry aromas.

Chateau Lafite-Rothschild, Bordeaux, France
Probably the most famous chateau in the world. The famous banking family of France has owned this vineyard since 1868. Considered the epitome of Bordeaux wine culture, prices per bottle start at $550.

Petrus

  • There is no chateau – there was once a farmhouse on the estate but it was destroyed 10 years ago
  • There is no second wine – any juice deemed not good enough to be used in Petrus is sold as bulk wine
  • Sometimes, they won’t even produce a vintage if the conditions aren’t right (the last skipped vintage was 1991)
  • They have a specific soil called “the button” which is a rise of blue clay on which the vineyard is planted (11.5 hectares) located in the Pomerol appellation
    • The soil is 40 million  years old
  • Produces only about 30,000 bottles a year 
  • While Bordeaux is usually about blends, Petrus is about merlot saying it has a more Burgundian purity to it – about a particular grape in a particular terroir
  • Right bank site that has been 100% Merlot since 2011
  • More domestic – about 35-40% of production is sold in France
  • The phylloxera vine-pest crisis is what caused Petrus to decide to replant Merlot
  • The name comes from the Romans – they called it Petrus which means stone or rock because during the summer the clay dries and becomes hard as stone
    • Peter, a form of this word, is the new name Jesus gave to Simon the leader of his apostles when he declared “On this rock, I will build by church”
  • Wine costs between $1470-$4670 a bottle for good vintages and lesser vintages are about $470-$670

ITALY

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Masseto, Tuscany (Average price: $966): This Super Tuscan fine wine is made from Merlot grapes. It boasts aromatic complexity, a tannic structure, and red fruit flavors. 

  • The annual production is limited. 
  • Masseto’s cellar turns out an average of 30,000 bottles per year. 
  • Make a second wine “Massetino”
    • Massetino is a blend. It consists mainly of Merlot, supplemented with Cabernet Franc. This cuvée matures for a period of 12 months in oak barrels of averagely 50% new wood. After this maturation, the wines are assembled, and the blend gets another three months of barrel aging.
  • Episode 69 all about Super Tuscans talks about Ornellaia
  • First founded by Lodovico Antinori in 1981 when Italy’s wine laws were still outdated and restrictive
  • Received a 100 point score for the 2001 vintage

Barolo Riserva Monfortino Giacomo Conterno, Piemont, Italy: Many experts say the Monfortino is Italy’s greatest red wine. This exceptional Barolo is only made in certain years, then ripened in a cask for 7 years before it is bottled. It’s storage-ability is legendary. Yours from around $600.

AUSTRALIA

Penfolds Grange Bin 95, Southbank (Average price: $637): This great wine is made from Shiraz grapes. It’s a fine red wine with a blackcurrant aroma, crisp minerality, and dark cherry flavors.

THE STORY:

  • Turned 70 in 2021
  • Originally criticized by the people who sampled it so it was discontinued by Penfolds as a result but was made in secrecy by Max Schubert, the original creator
  • Company’s history dates back to 1844
  • Schubert, who died in 1994, joined the winery as a messenger boy in 1931 and became chief winemaker in 1948 (33 years old)
    • Won the country’s top honor “The Member of the Order of Australia” in 194 and Decanter’s Man of the Year in 1988
  • Schubert had gone to Jerez to study fortified wines since Australia at the time had made a lot of those but stopped in Bordeaux as well
  • Started the Grange production in 1951 but probably released the wine too early and the Penfolds family were underwhelmed by it, asking him to stop
  • He sectioned off part of the winery that was underground to continue his work in secret
  • Vintages 57, 58, 59 were made and he hid barrels and bottles
  • The 55 vintage won everything it could at the 1926 Sydney Wine Show and the family was frustrated they had decided not to keep it but he revealed the truth

Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz, McLaren Vale (Average price: $212): This fine wine is made from Shiraz grapes. It’s a complex red wine with plum flavors, a velvety texture, and smooth tannins.

SOUTH AFRICA

4G L’Aube De La Vigne, South Africa
Winemaker legend Giogio Dalla Cia and “Pope of Wine” Denis Dubourdieu, who tragically passed away in July 2016, are behind this relatively recent project. Their objective? Make the best and most expensive red wine in South Africa’s 350 year history of wine-making. Only 3000-4000 bottles of this rising star among cult wines are made per vintage. It found international recognition when it left several perfect 100 score superstar Bordeaux in its dust at a blind tasting event. Own a bottle from around $400.

SPAIN

Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva, Ribera del Duero (Average price: $485): This great wine is made from Tempranillo grapes. It’s a crisp red wine with ripe plum flavors, full-bodied richness, and dried flower aromas.

GERMANY

Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Egon Müller, Saar, Germany
Egon Müller is Germany’s ultimate cult vintner. International collectors and connoisseurs know his Rieslings are worth every penny. Scharzhofberg wines are among the most coveted and best in the world. Only a few dozen bottles of Trockenbeerenauslese are made and sold exclusively at auctions. A recent vintage comes with a $6,000 price tag.

  • Trockenbeerenauslese is a classification of wines produced from sweet shrivelled Botrytised grapes. They are exceptionally concentrated, sweet and long-lived, but are also particularly rare. 
  • Ranks among the world’s most prestigious winemaking families
    • Established in 1993 “Primum Familiae Vini” or First Families of Wine is a 12 member group of the world’s most prestigious winemaking families
    • Determined by being a leading producer in the region and new members can only be accepted by a unanimous decision
  • Egon Muller the Fourth is the current custodian of the most famous vineyard in Germany – his son his waiting the wings
    • He is the 4th Egon Muller but the 6th generation of the family to own and run the estate
    • His dog is also named Egon
  • From the Saar region which produces lighter and fresher than the rieslings of the Rhine
  • He does make entry level wines that are meant for immediate drinking but the TBA is sold only at the annual Trier wine auction, about 150 bottles a year
  • “My wines are bound to be expensive; the world is getting richer and there is more cash available”
  • He only makes rieslings and even collaborates on rieslings in other countries like Australia and Slovakia
  • The weingut (winery) owens 21 acres of the 70-acre Scharzhofberger vineyards which is considered to be the world’s best rieslings
  • Average price is $13,670 with a max price of $32,897 for the TBA