Courtesy of the UK importer (Corney & Barrow) I had the opportunity to taste the 2005 release of the domaine. I was expecting to over-exercise my superlative gland while writing notes, but in the end it was a slightly sombre showing from the wines as they showed in quite a tight, closed fashion, only the first and last wines – Echézeaux and Romanée-Conti – were really open and welcoming. The wines showed enough to confidently recommend purchasing any of the bottles but as the ‘city’ moves into art and wine as investment vehicles I understand that the offer was nine times over-subscribed!
A heavy nose of ample cream-edged fruit and new oak melds well with a fairly forward smoky, stemmy note. The plate lacks for a little poise with a ‘whoosh’ of fruit that is admittedly borne on lovely acidity. There’s plenty of oak on the finish too – though it’s a long finish. The scent clings well to the glass. Overall the aromatics, and to a certain extent the flavours too, are rather sweet, facile and vanilla-oak edged – indeed the ripeness is not even shaded by Romanée-Conti – but it’s characterful and quite athletic too. Needs 2-4 years to shed that facile, oak-influenced character but this has all the material to become really super.
2005 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Grands-Echézeaux
The aromatics have a much deeper aspect – mulberry and savoury oak, a little spice and only faint stems – much more ‘adult’ than the obviously riper Echézeaux. In the mouth it’s very tight, but at the same time, more intense. The tannin just shows a little astringency in the mid-palate, the impression is just a little less fresh than the Echézeaux too. The finish is a slow diminuendo and less impressive today than that of the Echézeaux. The aromatics are the only dimension that clearly outpoints the previous wine – clinging beautifully to the glass. This has great potential, but today has quite a sullen aspect.
A heavy, heady scent of roses, spice and meat – eventually the smoky stems make a cameo. The palate has the freshness of the Echézeaux, but also the tight concentration of the ‘GE’. The spine of acidity is very lovely, flowing right through the centre of the wine – but everything here is on a low, subtle level. It eventually takes on a slightly plumper impression in the mid-palate, but it mainly remains behind a veil.
2005 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Richebourg
A wide nose – not so deep and focused as the Vivant, but rather fine and edged with higher-tones and caramel. After 30 minutes there is more definition and focus with a lovely floral aspect. On the palate the effect is very specific; it stains your tongue with complex flavours – but without apparent weight – now that’s impressive. Faintly furry tannin, super-wide and beautifully textured. I don’t think this wine is showing all it has, but what it does show is completely stunning – a wow wine.
Aromatically closer to the style of the Richebourg than the Vivant, but right from the start it has focus and an extra and deeper register if not the anticipated spice-box. The flavour profile is riper/sweeter than the last wines – closer to the Echézeaux – but the there is a clear and distinct extra length. Currently this is at the subtle end of the traditional La Tâche continuum – it’s far from a blockbuster, but it certainly edges the Richebourg for the most complete wine so far.
2005 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti
I’ve rarely experienced this from young DRC wines, but today this is clearly, aromatically more impressive than the La Tâche – it’s deeper, has more concentrated fruit at the core, and what fruit! In the mouth the stunning fruit continues, creamily-edged and slowly creeping into a haunting finish. There is a faint tannin emphasis but the tannin melts before the finish. There is beautifully packaged ripeness here, but delivered in such a way you would never class as negative. By far the most authoritative young Romanée-Conti I ever met, but in part that’s due to the tightness of most of its stable-mates.