Tasted in Vosne-Romanée with Bertrand de Villaine, 06 December, 2018.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
1 Place de l’Église
Bertrand on 2017 and a little of 2018:
“We began our harvest on the 31 August in 2018, the 04 September in 2017. We had an attack of mildew in the bottom of La Tâche in 2018, it’s the first big attack of something since we were hit by botrytis in 2008. There was more protein in the white in 2018, and we had some malos underway before wine had even descended into barrel. In some limited areas we even had to make some modest green harvests in 2018.
”2017 was a vintage without great challenges, at least when compared to most other recent vintages. It’s the first time that we’ve used all cellars with volume of 2017 and 2018 together. The 2017s are quite ready to start assembling, and we will make a very fine filtration where needed. We are already starting with Echézeaux today, the Corton has just been done so we won’t taste that one. 2017 is a vintage that brings out the fruit, the open character of Echézeaux, a vintage that very well defines each different cru – the wines are very immediate, complete but easy to appreciate. The Grands-Echézeaux is still in progress, its personality is not yet fully in place, it’s always a wine for very long aging.
“2017 is a really good vintage that will allow you to drink earlier – 2014 allows that too – we drink quite a few of those now. Of the more recent vintages, 2003 and 2007 are drinking well. 2011s are not easy right now. La Tâche 2006 is super as are Echézeaux and Grands-Echézeaux 2008. I’m sure that 2005 will be good one day, but not yet.”
All the wines showing great personalities this year – The GE whilst not easy is the pick for me – I won’t anyway get the chance buy the RC!
About 75% whole-clusters were used in the fermentation for all wines except the Romanée-Conti, which was 100%. We always taste from new barrels, but there are some older barrels in the mix too.
We didn’t taste the Corton as it’s been in bottle only 2-3 days, but I noted an interesting comment from Bertrand on how this wine has developed within their portfolio “We started with plenty of oak in the Corton, then reduced, then slowly began to increase again as the production (quality) improved.” Indeed the domaine is also much less ‘mechanical’ in how they work these days – a little foulage, more remontage, less pigeage – “were looking more for delicacy – I think that is probably partly in response the the high maturity vintages that we’ve seen recent vintages.”
Also, the cuvée Divault-Blochet hasn’t been seen since 2011 – either due to climate issues, or simply that the maturity has been so homogenous that there has been no need to make separate cuvées – there has simply been more grapes for the grand vin.
Medium-plus colour. A big nose, first a punch, then some oak spice. Round, melting flavour over the palate, sucrosity, layered flavour, ooh that’s a vibrant finish too. Holding long, the last drops fine and pure. This is simply excellent!
Ooh a bigger, brighter darker and more energetic fruit. Cooler fruit on the palate, more silk but also more seriously structured. An intense personality, a burst of fruit and flowers in the finish. Great, serious wine! The last flavours are barrel dominated at the end, but slowly fading…
2017 Romanée St.Vivant
Much more open, floral and wide scented. Direct, more impact than the nose suggests, a wine that keeps growing after you swallow. Less directly fine texture when compared to GE, the tannin is pliable on the palate, the wine finishing very wide – a very different character again… More serene and complex and faint herb today in the finish.
Not the deepest colour Richebourg. Ooh, that’s big, floral, faint but insinuating pyrazine aromatic – a big energy of high-toned aroma. Extra silk, extra width but a growing base of tannin, vibrant again in the finish – a tannic finish without much grain of tannin in evidence.
Also a modest colour vs 15-16. Ooh, now that’s a classier nose – highly (rose) floral but without the pyrazine push of the Richebourg – not a massive impact but hyper-elegant. In the mouth this has great volume more of a density than an architecture. A large block of flavour that whisks you – but not too fast – into the finish. Detailed, still faintly herbed in the finish, but almost a luminous wine – bravo!
Bigger impact on the nose, actually a touch of pyrazine, like the Richebourg – but less. Rose slowly overtakes, a nose that keeps building. Volume in the mouth like the La Tache, but more open, more complex. More depth – How? – How can this be such a step up. The flavours in the middle are still in formation, more vegetal than they will finish. A wine from the family but completely different. Bravo! Always the elegance of rsv but with so much extra – ‘they are the closest family members,’ says Bertrand.