These wines were tasted at the London importer’s (Corney & Barrow) trade and press tasting at the beginning of February 2007 – approximately 9 months after tasting them from barrel at the domaine. The very pleasant Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru that I tasted at the domaine which was made from a second pass through all the grand cru vineyards will not have a general release – rather will be labelled and distributed into the (French) restaurant trade.
Aubert de Villaine was once-more on hand to field any questions. I have to say that the more often I meet him, the more I like him. I, like most people, tend(ed) to approach him like a venerable teacher, but the more we chat the more I realise what fun he can be. I told Aubert that maybe I would have to stop buying the domaine’s wines with (perhaps) the 2006 vintage – he cast me a quizzical look so I explained that aged 45 with a minimum 20 years dwelling time in the cellar (for the bottles!) coupled to a nice selection from vintage 1998 onwards meant that I would have enough to enjoy given an average lifespan. Aubert motioned me to come a little closer and said – ‘you know, as I get older, I find I appreciate the younger ones more and more!’ – then, chuckling. he flashed me a big smile!
|2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Échezéaux|
Yield 26.5 hl/ha – or 1,267 cases. Medium cherry-red colour. Soft aromas of vanilla support high-toned young but quite elegant notes and subtle stems – slowly it is cherry fruit that starts to underpin everything. The palate mirrors the elegant profile of the nose – there are no fireworks, just a sneaky, undemonstrative length. Elegant, subtle, long reflective wine.
|2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Grands-Échezéaux|
Yield 25.5 hl/ha – or 882 cases. Medium colour. The nose has a little more wood and stem ‘smoke’, faint vanilla at the base and just a little more width than the Echézeaux. Eventually the nose shows truffly notes and asian spice – more cohesion but I miss a fruit dimension, plus a little cedar is now appearing – 25 minutes finally gives us a little cherry! The nose seems much more primary than from barrel. The palate shows the elegance that I remember though the acidity seems just a little brighter with a trace of cedar on the mid-palate. Like the Echézeaux, there are no fireworks, rather understated length. This was my ‘amour’ from barrel – from bottle it seems merely ‘pretty’ rather than beguiling.
|2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée Saint-Vivant|
Yield 28.3 hl/ha – or 1,229 cases. Medium colour. The nose starts more generous and savoury that the last wines but then closes up. Some notes of cedar and berries are slowly released as the nose widens again, becoming smoky and filling the glass again with creamy, spicy and more fruit driven notes. The palate is more masculine and tannic but shows sweet fruit and a more concentrated length. It’s less elegant for sure but has more power and will surely gain balance with time. This is a much bigger step up from the Grands-Echézeaux than at the barrel tasting.
|2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Richebourg|
Yield 27.25 hl/ha – or 953 cases. Slightly deeper colour. Violets and smoke on the sweet nose – the stems are more forward than with the previous wines. Lovely red fruit notes waft from the almost drained glass. Again a different approach – the wine starts narrow but widens and widens on the palate. There tannins are evident but well covered by fruit. The length is very sneaky indeed. There is similar concentration but better balance compared to the Saint-Vivant. Despite not fileding the usual Richebourg ‘punch’, this is a super package.
|2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche|
Yield 26.35 hl/ha – or 1,432 cases. I spent 40 minutes with this wine and despite how impressive it was – I didn’t seem to find too much to write! The nose starts slightly understated – hints of cedar and plenty of spicy interest. Slowly it becomes smoother and wider with faint caramel and coffee, eventually showcasing nice precise red fruits. Here is yet another character – more forward and ebullient. Super length with plenty of attack.
|2004 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti|
Yield 26.55 hl/ha – or 471 cases. Medium-pale colour. The nose is wide and deep, translucent rather than dense with quite pleasant stem notes. Bottle two seems to be have more depth and show a more floral, violet aspect. It’s hard to point out specific attributes as there is that Romanée-Conti ‘whole-ness’ that provides such a measure of balance. Understated and precise, there is so much harmony and sophistication here. Certainly a wine for reflection rather than to impress.