An invitation to taste the new vintage of Romanée-Conti is one that’s worth dropping everything to attend. This is the kind of audience with vinous royalty to which few are privileged. The wines are strictly allocated, and destined for the cellars of long-term customers and top restaurants, with only a miniscule fraction ever to re-appear on the open market.
With prices that start at £80 a bottle for the Échézeaux, and rise with eye-watering increments to £700 a bottle for Romanée-Conti itself, it is also the sort of stuff that precious few can afford.
Owner of the estate, Aubert de Villaine, who is also closely involved in overseeing wine-making decisions, was in attendance. He pronounced that he was très content” with the vintage, and a pack of buyers for top restaurants and merchants, well-heeled private customers, and salivating wine journalists joined in the excitement of tasting the complete Grand Cru edition of this, the world’s most famous red Burgundy estate.
After the stellar 1999, the 2000 vintage in Burgundy had a lot to live up to, but live up it did, with another very good performance overall (see wine-pages’ Burgundy 2000 report). wine-pages’ contributor Neal Martin attended last year’s 1999 DRC tasting and commented: “my overall impression is thatit is a great vintage, but not as great as 1999. It is an interesting vintage when you compare the vineyards against each other: they each havedistinct character, which will develop individually with age”.
These wines were, of course of extremely high quality, from the delicious, ripe, seductively easy-drinking Échézeaux, to the much more closed, but concentrated and profound La Tâche and Romanée-Conti itself. I agree with Neal that each wine did indeed have a very individual profile, and whilst some are more open and flattering now, those that are more closed and relatively monolithic have such intrinsic quality that they will undoubtedly blossom over coming decades. A couple of years ago I drank the 1966 Échézeaux, and it was a sublimely mature wine.
These wines were shown by the UK agency for DRC, Corney & Barrow. Price below are per 6-bottle case, in-bond (add £7 duty, then 17.5% VAT). The DRC offer is on now (closes 7th March), but note that wines are sold on strict allocation.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Échézeaux 2000 – £440
Healthy ruby colour. Lovely nose; very sweet, earthy, with slightly truffly notes. Very perfumed and alluring, with floral hints and a sweet fragrance. The palate is soft, ripe and already suffused with an integrated raft of strawberry and cherry fruit underpinned by mellow, coffee-bean oak on the mid-palate. There is good acidity, and very rounded, soft tannins though it powers through with a little spicy kick into the finish. Absolutely gorgeous, and possibly my favourite wine if for current drinking. Excellent.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands-Échézeaux – £664
Light, bright, ruby colour. Slightly more muted nose here; less fragrance. Soft, woodlandy, bracken and mossy notes with some emerging chocolate, game, and darker, truffly nuances. There’s a more solid core to this wine on the palate, with darker fruit and more flesh. It is less alluring at this stage than the Échézeaux, but is more concentrated with a damsony depth in the finish, slightly fuller body and lovely balance. Excellent.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Saint-Vivant – £960
Healthy ruby colour. Distinctly spicy overtones here, with coffee-bean and game, some dank, mushroomy notes and sweaty, saddle-leather savouriness. Quite full and powerful on the palate, there is plenty of fruit sweetness, but this is a more masculine wine. Quite closed really, but a fine sense of density and concentration. The mid-palate has a mellow, spicy, vanilla edge, and there is even some toasty character into the finish. Seems a little less refined than the previous wines, but very, very young of course. Very good indeed/excellent.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg – £970
Healthy ruby colour again. Back to a soaring fragrance. Terrific sweetness evident on the nose, with cherry and raspberry fruit. Lots of more feminine, floral notes and hints of Morello cherry and bittersweet, damson fruit. More tight minerality on the palate, with a solid raft of fruit and a silky texture. Subtle, nutty tannins, but lovely grip. Good acidity too and this has lots of finesse and length. Excellent.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche – £1,117
Quite a dense, vivid colour. Fine sense of drama on the nose here; elegance and power with complex, supple, compact aromatics: quite muscular and brooding, with tightly wound cherry fruit and just hints of espresso and chocolate warmth. Very structured in the mouth, with a backbone of tannins and a keen edge of acidity. Supple, savoury, dense black fruit with an earthier note filling in on the mid-palate. Lovely weight, and extends in the mouth. Quite closed and reserved, but has obviously great quality. Excellent.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti – £3,570
Lovely glowing garnet colour. Sweet aromatics with a haunting fragrance: fine, violet and rose-tinged cherry fruit, with soft bracken notes and an earthy, even gamy quality too. There’s a lush strawberry sweetness layered into this mix, with a definite tang of salty minerality and a little edgy nervosity. Background coffee-bean oak adds sweetness. On the palate it is terrifically juicy and crisp, with fine tannins and lovely acidity adding an edge to cherry and raspberry fruit. There’s a fudge-like, sweeter note too, and hints of briar, chestnut, even liquorice. Great concentration and stays very focused and harmonious into a long finish. Outstanding.
Le Montrachet was not on tasting, but is available at £2,975 per six, in-bond.