A Partnership That Spans 39 Years: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Wilson Daniels
Wilson Daniels prides itself on longstanding relationships with some of the most well-established names in the winemaking business. Legendary producer Aubert de Villaine of Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has partnered with Wilson Daniels for 39 years. Together, we’ve watched American interest in this quintessential French wine blossom, grow and expand into the robust, competitive market we enjoy today. Named to UNESCO’s exclusive Intangible Heritage of Humanity list in 2015, Burgundy wine has never been more popular, collectible or delicious on the palate. It takes a true master to cultivate these vines to the very best of their potential, and that’s what makes our relationship with Aubert de Villaine so special.
We sat down with the producer to learn how his relationship with Wilson Daniels continues to impact production and sales at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
What’s the secret behind your longstanding relationship with Wilson Daniels?
The secret of our longevity with Wilson Daniels is very simple: from the very beginning, Win Wilson and Jack Daniels understood the Domaine’s philosophies and policies. Their goal has always been and remains to apply these philosophies and policies to the American market. In other words, Wilson Daniels has always put the interest of the Domaine before any other interest, including their own or their company’s.
Have you enjoyed this symbiosis since day one?
The relation has always been close and friendly, but it has grown closer and closer following the progress and setbacks that we encountered together over time.
How has the direct-to-consumer (DTC) program impacted your sales?
It’s become more and more necessary to control the distribution of our wines globally and keep them away from the “gray market.” Wilson Daniels has controlled our sales more closely, and in this regard, the DTC program has a very important and beneficial move for us all. We are looking forward to its future development.
Has Domaine de la Romanée-Conti grown within the American market?
Regarding the American market, we can say for the reasons above that Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Wilson Daniels have certainly grown together.
How did you first encounter Win Wilson and Jack Daniels?
We met Win Wilson and Jack Daniels in California at a time when we were looking for a national importer in the USA. The relationship has always been close and honest, and we don’t see who else other than Wilson Daniels could have organized our distribution the way it is today. My partner Lalou Bize-Leroy met them at an event in Napa, told me about them so we went to meet them in their offices and it truly started that way.
What sets your winemaking team apart from others?
Great wines in Burgundy are achieved only through a perpetual search for excellence. We have a difficult climatology, and a very diverse patchwork aligned on a very small acreage. To reach the quality that is expected from our wines demands an attention and dedication that must never waver. Experience from the past is very important, but each year is a new page, and you must adapt to what nature requests of you. Our vineyards are very special because they are all Grand Crus, which mean they are situated in rare places that have been selected for their excellence over centuries. Their potential for greatness is high, but, again, nothing could be achieved without the everyday efforts of our team.
How has access to Corton Clos du Roi, Bressandes and Renards vines impacted your future projects?
We were looking for a challenge for our Domaine, and when we were offered the opportunity to lease the 2.28 hectares of Corton Clos du Roi, Bressandes, and Renards from the de Merode family, we decided to go forward and see whether we were able to produce a great Corton.
You must really take great pride in the success of your Domaine.
Pride is not a good word for a vigneron. Working with nature makes you humble; you know that you could have accomplished greater goals. Nevertheless, I am proud of the wines we make at the Domaine, and of the team who works to achieve this. I am also proud of Burgundy that is now part of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity list.
When you think of Wilson Daniels, what’s the first word that comes to mind?
Partner. Wilson Daniels, maybe more than any of our other importers because of the importance of the US market, is a partner more than an importer. We work with the same goals, eager for the wines to have a good life in the bottle with the right people and the right cellars. Wilson Daniels has always understood and continues to work as ambassadors for the Domaine. We work hand-in-hand with Rocco Lombardo and his team, and we look forward to continuing that way for years to come.
May 11, 2018