Tasting the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti wines is always special. These are among the rarest and most expensive of wines, and the domaine keeps a tight lid on the them, showing them to a select group of writers, sommeliers, collectors and restaurateurs, usually in only two or three U.S. locations.
Nowhere in the world is there such a magical bond between the sun, soil and Pinot Noir as Burgundy. Tasting the seven DRC reds and one white last week afforded me the opportunity to hone in on the subtle yet distinct differences between the domaine’s vineyards, along with a chance to witness the refinement of years of making wine from the same plots of land.
Aubert de Villaine, a co-owner and co-director of DRC, described 2006 as a challenging vintage. A searing heat wave in July was followed by a wet, soggy August, only to have the sun rescue the year with a warm September.
I found this group of reds more alike than in any past vintage I can recall. In some years there have been more notable differences in quality between the bottlings. But the 2006s were uniformly tight, with brilliant ruby-red-garnet colors, zingy acidity, ripe, fresh, vibrant, pure and concentrated flavors built around a mix of raspberry, wild berry, blueberry, mineral, mushroom and limestone. All had great balance, finesse, length and refined tannins.
I rated all eight of the wines (including Le Montrachet) between 92 and 97 points in this non-blind format at Wilson Daniels’ headquarters in St. Helena. My colleague Bruce Sanderson covers Burgundy for us and will soon offer his own perspective.
This kind of tasting really drives home the difference between tasting wines blind and staring at an iconic label with the contents of the bottle worth, in many cases, thousands of dollars. I did my best to let the wines speak to me and not be swayed by their reputations.
The pouring order, typical for a DRC tasting, started with Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Cuvée Duvault-Blochet and ended with La Tâche, Romanée-Conti and Montrachet. The prices will be released next week at a similar tasting in New York.
Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru Cuvée Duvault-Blochet: Very rich, ripe raspberry, anise, mushroomy earthiness, spice and pepper. Compact, tight, concentrated and long on the finish. 94 points, non-blind.
Echézeaux: Wonderful earthy limestone aromas, with black cherry, raspberry and mineral flavors that tease. The fruit at first pushed forward, then pulled back. Graceful and long, with fine-grained tannins and a berried finish. 94 points, non-blind.
Grands Echézeaux: First impressions of fresh baked blueberry and blackberry pie, right down the crusty notes. Fragrant aromas, yet very tight, compact and concentrated, not giving up much at this point. 93 points, non-blind.
Romanée St.-Vivant: Perfumed raspberry, black cherry, with flinty mineral and mushroomy flavors. Compact, closed and tannic, the least forthcoming of the wines. 92 points, non-blind.
Richebourg: Layers of earth, limestone and mushroom topping a mix of berry fruit. Very concentrated, focused, persistent and in need of cellaring. Not showing much now but the depth is evident. 94 points, non-blind.
La Tâche: Amazing balance and purity of flavors, extending from the complex crushed cranberry, rose petal and raspberry scents to the touches of mineral, tea, and forest floor. Great texture, muscle and length. 97 points, non-blind.
Romanée-Conti: Wonderful earthiness, with raspberry, anise and subtle mineral, earthy scents. Very tight, elegant, graceful and delicate, with mineral and pebble notes on the finish. Seamless tannins. 97 points, non-blind.
Le Montrachet: Great acidity, sleek, tight, focused, with lemon-lime butterscotch flavors that reverberate on the finish. Has plenty of room to grow, ending with a long, long finish. 97 points, non-blind.
When I re-tasted each of the wines several times, they had each changed a little, reminding me a bit of musical chairs, where the level of quality was amazingly consistent.
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — February 6, 2009 6:39pm ET
Bernard Kruithof — San Antonio, Texas — February 7, 2009 1:14pm ET
Frank Ostini — Buellton, CA — February 9, 2009 1:04pm ET
Mark Cabell — Essex, CT — February 10, 2009 11:08am ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — February 10, 2009 5:12pm ET
Arshavir Kouladjian — Los Angeles, California — February 11, 2009 1:49pm ET
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