It seemed almost an apologetic first report of the death of HFR – and then the article was suddenly gone from the publication’s website – had they made a terrible mistake? It seemed to cause sufficient doubt that further reports took some time to surface – but surface they did.
Henry-Frédéric Roch (HFR) died overnight on Saturday-Sunday during the weekend. He leaves behind an iconoclastic domaine, with a very large – 75% finished – extension to the premises in Premeaux. I hope that the domaine has a successor and that the building work will be finished – the latter if-only for his long-suffering neighbours as this is already a three-year construction project. Then there is the question of his successor at the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, HFR being the public face of the Leroy family – half owners of that domaine. I saw HFR a number of times at DRC during harvest times, but I never saw him there during tastings.
I shared a first vintage with HFR – 1962 – and found him a captivating subject for a visit though unfortunately saw him very little after that first visit – simply because I knew my schedule was likely to be destroyed – if he was feeling receptive, you would struggle to depart in less than 4 hours. But he had such a stimulating mind, questioning all that you knew about burgundy wine from a very different standpoint of knowledge.
In the end I tasted with HFR no-more than 3 times, always for his own domaine’s wines, but those interactions are burnt into my memory – what a brilliant character…