Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Domaine de la ROMANÉE-CONTI (Vosne-Romanée) -- 2016 Tasted from Barrel

The frost on the morning of 27 April, devastating that Bâtard-Montrachet (not offered to the public) and the Montrachet, and severely hitting the Grands-Echézeaux and Echézeaux vineyards. (The rest — Corton, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Richebourg, La Tâche, and Romanée-Conti — escaped damage completely or almost completely.) 

The rain in the early part of the vintage was relentless, surpassing the totals of 1910 that had wiped out almost completely the production for that vintage. As with most organic and biodynamic estates that I visited, the mildew resulting from the humid conditions was ferocious and required vigilance and a great deal of work in the vineyards. Additionally, there was the long flowering period (9-25 June), leading to expectation of uneven ripening. But then the warm, dry weather came, allowing the grapes to develop and for overall even ripening. With some rain before harvest to refresh the vines, everything in the second half went as well as could be hoped.

Already by 15 September, the grapes were quite ripe, but they were allowed to develop a further week. Harvesting was from 22 to 29 September, with the dates for each wine indicated below.

For the second consecutive vintage, there was no botrytis. With the even ripening, there was almost no sorting of the grapes necessary, and whole clusters were largely used throughout. 

The result at the Domaine is yet another vintage of great wines.

As you may already know, the frost so severely affected the Chassagne side of Montrachet that there essentially was no harvest. Seven Montrachet producers (Amiot, Lafon, Fleurot-Larose, Lamy-Pillot, Leflaive, Petitjean, and the Domaine) from the Chassagne side combined their meager crop to produce just over two barrels of wine, vinified by Leflaive. The bottles will be divided among the producers; it’s not clear what will then happen, but it is possible that the bottles will be put up for a charity auction.

Finally before the reviews, I should mention that Bernard Noblet, who has been with the Domaine since 1978 and was the chef de cave since 1986, retired at the end of 2017. You don’t need me to tell you that Bernard did a superb job as the right-hand-man at the estate. His successor is Alexandre Bernier, a young vigneron, who has already worked at the estate for several years, and so one expects nothing other than a smooth hand-off. (Continue reading here.)