Thursday, December 4, 2014

Domaine de la ROMANEE-CONTI: 2012s from Bottle

Domaine de la ROMANEE-CONTI (Vosne-Romanée)
2012s from Bottle

The 2012s were bottled between February and April 2014. As I explained in my previous review of the wines from barrel, the Montrachet was hit by hail on June 30. For reds and whites, mildew and oïdium were problems over the summer, as well as some late June heat that burnt young grapes exposed to the sun, thereby reducing the crop.

The normal hundred days from mid-flowering was relaxed and the harvest was put back. Harvesting of Corton and some of the young vines in Vosne began on September 21, but the real harvest at Vosne began on Monday, September 24. However, rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 25 and 26, forced the harvest to a halt and raised fears of botrytis. Fortunately, the thick skins and subsequent cold temperatures held the botrytis at bay, and the grapes came in very healthy, with only some “burnt” grapes to sort out. Aubert de Villaine wrote that “we saw a beautiful crop filing past on the sorting table, one of the most beautiful in recent years.” Overall, the reds averaged 20 hl/ha, about 25% less than usual.

These wines were tasted on October 28.

2012 Corton
Harvested on September 21. The nose here is spiced with cinnamon, recalling the “red hots” candies of my youth, and also features red cherry fruit. The mouth is medium-full, round, quiet, harmonious, rich, and ample with red cherry fruit. The wine is firm but sensual and light on the tongue. I’d estimate that the wine needs 15-20+ years to show its best, but it is most impressive already. 96/A

2012 Echézeaux
Harvested on September 29 and 30. This wine is closed in the nose. The mouth is medium-full, harmonious, and elegant, although still closed for the moment. The richness masks the structure here for the time being. The Domaine has greatly improved its Echézeaux in recent years and this wine, when it reaches maturity, will be a prime example. 94+/A

2012 Grands-Echézeaux
Harvested September 23, 24, and 25. The Grands-Echézeaux is more open than the Echézeaux, but it also shows more structure. It is the definition of refinement and nobility in its black fruit with licorice and a very great expression of the too-often misunderstood and underrated terroir of Grands-Echézeaux. 97/A+

2012 Romanée-Saint-Vivant
Harvested September 28 and 29. This wine is full and typically sensual with elegance and dark fruits. It is ample but not as powerful as the other wines today. 95+/A

2012 Richebourg
Harvested September 27 and 28. This is prototypical Richebourg with spicy, dark, explosive fruit – the fireworks going off in the mouth – but the wine also shows calmness within the context of the vintage. It is one of the great Richebourgs of recent years. 97/A+

2012 La Tâche
Harvested September 25 and 27. The wine has iron aromas. The mouth is full and firm with immense depth and endless dark fruit, and with time it begins to open to power and sensuality. It is a very great wine, but one that demands a lot of time. 98+/A+

2012 Romanée-Conti
Harvested September 22. As is typical, this wine is lighter than La Tâche; not necessarily typical, though, is that it is more open than La Tâche at this point. The difference between this wine and La Tâche is the classic comparison. 99/A+

2012 Montrachet
Harvested September 28. Botrytis, oïdium, and two strikes of hail meant that a very strict sorting had to be done here, and yield was barely half normal. The resulting wine, at 13.5º alcohol, is atypical of the Domaine’s Montrachet because it lacks the usual richness and opulence, but it is highly impressive nevertheless. The nose is mineral and shows slight menthol notes. The mouth is rich, but not as rich as the Montrachet here usually is (no botrytis in this vintage), with depth, length, and long aging potential. There is a touch of butter to go along with the great minerality, and although this wine is full-bodied, it knows its limits. The fatness of many whites in this vintage is not a problem with most of the grands crus that I tasted, and certainly not one here. As always with Montrachet, extended aging is recommended. 98/A+

Vintage Overview

It has been my extreme privilege to be able to taste the wines of the Domaine from barrel for more than twenty consecutive vintages – vintages that include some of the greatest years ever. After I tasted the 2012s from cask last year, on the way out I said to Aubert de Villaine that I could not recall a Grands-Echézeaux or Romanée-Conti greater than these, and he agreed. Now that I’ve tasted the wines from bottle, my views remain unchanged. Add to that the other magnificent wines of the vintage here, and I can only hope that those lucky enough to obtain bottles of any of these wines have the patience to hold them long enough to allow the wines to reach maturity and the experience to recognize the extreme greatness of these wines.