Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Domaine de la ROMANEE-CONTI: 2013s from Barrel

Domaine de la ROMANEE-CONTI (Vosne-Romanée)
2013s from Barrel
These have seemingly always been the most expensive wines in Burgundy, and with the new recent popularity of Burgundy worldwide, prices have reached heights unimaginable even a few years ago, much less a little more than twenty years ago when the wines sat on shelves at less than full retail markup (as was the case with other top Burgundies at that time). Suffice it to say that those who have the opportunity and the means to purchase these wines and who know what to expect from them will not be disappointed.

On the Côte de Beaune, the Domaine managed to escape the hail that was so disastrous for many other producers, and there was no hail on the Côte de Nuits. By September 30, the Côte de Beaune grapes had reached maturity, but rain caused botrytis for the Montrachet (which I did not taste on this visit), and it was harvested on October 2 “more rapidly than usual.” With the necessary sorting and the lack of juice in the vintage, the crop is very small (27 hl/ha), but Aubert de Villaine describes the wine as “in the tradition of the Domaine’s Montrachet,” that is, rich and opulent.

For the reds, harvesting began with the Corton, which was taken in on October 3 with in an excellent sanitary state. The rains on October 5 and 6 caused concern about botrytis in the reds further north, but the weather then turned quite cold, stopping the botrytis, and the grapes brought in from October 7 on were harvested under dry and very cold conditions that stopped further spread of botrytis (although sorting was necessary to eliminate the botrytis that already was there). Surprisingly, the grapes continued to ripen in sugars, and so the harvested grapes exceeded expectations. Yields are small, though, as indicated below. Malolactic fermentations finished in August and September, and the wines were still unracked when I tasted them on October 28.

2013 Corton
Harvesting took place on October 3, and 20 hl/ha were obtained. As stated above, the grapes were quite healthy at harvest. This wine is made from old vines in the Corton-Clos-du-Roy, Bressandes, and Renardes vineyards. (When younger vines are of sufficient age, it is expected that there will be quantities sufficient to allow each vineyard to be bottled separately.) The wine continues to amaze me with each vintage that I taste it because it is so pure and, in the Cistercian sense, stripped down to its essentials. One Corton producer told me that he was amazed when he tasted it because he had never had another Corton like it. The wine shows mineral red fruits in the nose. The mouth has the texture typical of the DRC Corton with firmness to go with a medium-light weight. The red fruit is intense and pure and tannins are evident. (93-97)

2013 Echézeaux
Harvested on October 12 (all day) and the morning of October 13. 16 hl/ha yield. The nose here is spicy. The mouth shows dark fruit and some tannic structure. The wine overall is very primary and its structure, in part because of the CO2 still in the wine, overrides the sensuality for the moment, making the wine not easy to judge. (92-96)

2013 Grands-Echézeaux
Harvested on the afternoon of October 6 and the morning of October 7. Yield of 22 hl/ha. The nose is somewhat vegetal (not a negative) with licorice elements. The wine presents itself as rounder and more sensual than the Echézeaux with plenty of fruit and the licorice that marks Grands-Echézeaux for me. (93-97)

2013 Romanée-Saint-Vivant
Harvested the afternoon of October 10 and all day October 11. Yield of 18 hl/ha. The wine is dark, sensual, round, and voluptuous – typical of Romanée-Saint-Vivant. (94-97)

2013 Richebourg
Harvested the afternoon of October 9 and the morning of October 10. 17 hl/ha yield. This wine is not as open as the Romanée-Saint-Vivant. It shows typical dark plum fruit and more structure than the Romanée-Saint-Vivant, as expected, but also has some smoothness. (94-97)

2013 La Tâche
Harvested the afternoon of October 7 and the mornings of October 8 and 9. 19 hl/ha yield. This wine is showing better than the others today (although Romanée-Conti is nearly at the same level): it is firm with enormous depth and focus to its dark fruit. The wine is not explosive, as it so often is, but it impresses by its power, depth, concentration, and balance. I expect it will need 25-30 years in the bottle to achieve its full potential, though. (97-99)

2013 Romanée-Conti

Harvested the afternoon of October 8. 18 hl/ha yield. The nose is spicy and shows great finesse. The mouth is ample, round, focused, pure, and sensual with red fruits and some dark. As is typical, this wine lacks the power of La Tâche, and instead impresses by its completeness. (96-99)