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As is often the case with this wine when it is young, the nose is almost always very restrained but even so the word brilliant doesn't begin to capture just how marvelous it is. It's a fool's errand to try and capture all of the various nuances but a few of the major components would include dried rose petals, hoisin, clove, anise and cassis that merge seamlessly into regal, pure and gorgeously intense middle weight flavors that possess seemingly limitless reserves of dry extract that almost completely hide the perfectly integrated tannins on the firm, mineral-driven, overtly austere and linear finish. This possesses such a spectacular nose that you don't even have to drink it to be thrilled and the flavors are perfectly spherical. This may well be the wine of the vintage because wine does not get much, if any, better. If you can somehow justify the scratch required, don't miss it. I would also note that I'm not much on using plus signs with a scoring hierarchy that is already implausibly precise yet I do so here to indicate that I have the smallest of preferences for the '09 Romanée-Conti vis-à-vis the La Tâche. Yes, it would perhaps be just as easy to assign the next highest number rather than adding the plus but this would imply that the '09 RC is as good as the '90, '99 or '05 versions, which even as spectacular as it is, I do not believe that it can quite match those efforts. Hence why I used the plus, just in case you may have wondered.
Score: 98+Allen Meadows, Burghound.com (45), January 2012
“As if, in this square of earth, the gods had bequeathed us a memory of the fascinating vestige of a timeless perfection.” — Richard Olney. The wine of Prince de Conti, she is velvet, seduction and mystery. It is the most Proustian of all great wines.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is without question the most famous estate in Burgundy and arguably the greatest, producing some of the best wines in the world. It is probably one of the most traditional wineries in France. Wines are produced in small quantities while the demand is huge. The domaine has 25 hectares of vineyards, all Grand Crus, including the jewel in the crown, the 1.8 hectare monopole of Romanée Conti.
Romanée-Conti, a vineyard of four and a half acres,was originally the property of the Abbey of St. Vivant. In 1760 Prince Conti acquired it against the competition of a famous collector of jewellery, Madame de Pompadour – the king’s minister against the king’s mistress. He withdrew it from the market and reserved it for his own dazzling social events. It was he who created the myth surrounding Romanée-Conti.
The price of this tiny, treasured vineyard was 80.000 livres, which in those days was worth a small kingdom. Reclaimed as property of the nation during the Revolution, the vineyard passed through the hands of several proprietors to an ancestor of the present owner for 14.000 gold pounds in 1868.
–We are the keeper of a certain philosophy of wine and, mainly, we are concerned by the perfection in details" assures Aubert de Villaine.
Romanée-Conti lies on brown limestone soils 60 cm deep with a major clay component. Romanée-Saint-Vivant has similar but deeper (90 cm) soils. Higher up, La Romanée occupies a markedly sloping site (12%) and the soil texture is less clayey. La Tâche and La Grande Rue share brown limestone soils, rather shallow at the top end with deeper rendzinas lower down. The same is true for the Richebourg, depending on slope and aspect. The underlying rock is hard Premeaux limestone dating from the Jurassic (175 million years BC).
Lying between Flagey-Échezeaux (home of the ÉCHEZEAUX appellation) and Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée occupies a middle position in the Côte de Nuits. The vines grow at altitudes of 250 to 310 metres and face east or, in some cases, slightly south of east. Vosne-Romanée, the central jewel in the necklace of appellations which is the burgundian côte, is not content with holding a mere four aces but boasts a total of six Grands Crus, each one famous the world over. A thousand years ago, it was the Cluniac monks of Saint-Vivant de Vergy and the Cistercians of Cîteaux who first realised the value of these very special plots of land.
One of these vineyards takes its name from Prince Conti who lost his heart to it in 1760. Romanée-Conti is one of the wonders ofthe world and has always been a singly-held entity. Next door to it, Romanée-Saint-Vivant recalls the medieval monastery of the Hautes-Côtes which is currently undergoing restoration and which is linked to it by its own path. La Romanée, La Tâche and La Grande Rue are also singly-held entities, as is Richebourg, whose mere name is enough to fill a glass.
These Grands Crus frequently give good results from long laying-down. As a general rule, they shouldn't be drunk under about ten years of age but sometimes they will be aged up to 20 or 30 years. Each appellation has its own distinct personality depending on its year of production and on the stage it has reached in its development. These flamboyant red wines fully express the subtlety and complexity of the Burgundian Pinot Noir grape. Their colour is a dark ruby turning crimson with age. Their wide-ranging bouquet is divided among small red and black fruits, violet, spices and, with time, underbrush. On the palate, this wine is well-defined with a powerful body. It is delicate, sensual, frank and full.
In addition to their powerful structure and exceptional longevity, these great wines develop tertiary aromas of truffle, underbrush, leather and fur. It goes without saying that strong-flavoured meats will do them justice : furred or feathered game, braised, in sauce, or simply grilled. Wild-fowl (eg Peking duck) or a nice cut of roast veal will be gently enveloped by the close-packed but elegant tannins of these mighty Pinot Noir wines.
Serving temperatures : 15 to 16 °C.
In exceptionally sunny years, it often happens that the sun accompanies the grapes, which it took so much care to ripen, from the end of vattings to the birth of the wine. This is what happened this year - a year ending with a « 9 » which once more associates this figure with the star of life.
The Indian summer set in at the end of the harvest and the glorious vineyards, relieved of their fruit, are changing colours every day, becoming more and more golden-yellow, as if the nostalgia for summer days was expressing itself through the gold that covers the leaves before they fall off and provide nourishment to the soil.
The wineries are buzzing with activity in the village streets that stretch out in the sun and the winegrowers have a smile on their faces while they smell the fragrances coming from their wineries and reminding them all the time what a blessing from gods it is to have a great vintage in Burgundy.
Not that everything was easy - on the contrary. In the winegrower's annual fight with irregular and unpredictable weather, whose whims, he knows, are necessary for making great wines, victory often takes shape very late. It was the case in 2008 as it was not until mid-September that the « window » of beautiful weather opened and permitted the vintage to be successful.
At other times, rarer, as in 1999, 2005 or in this year 2009, victory is won as early as the beginning of August. But we were then so busy protecting the vineyards against the violent attacks of oidium, of mildew especially and even of botrytis from the spring until the end of July, that we did not notice it.
After an early budburst as has often been the case in recent years, those diseases were favoured during the months of April, May, June and even July by regular stormy rains that gave no respite to the winegrower. Even though the sun kept on activating the metabolism of the vineyards, the heat brought storms almost every week. Fortunately these were not too violent - except where there was hail, in Gevrey-Chambertin for instance - but obliged us to repeat our biological treatments each time.
On the other hand, it was precisely thanks to the spring rains that the vineyards could reserve enough water to get through, without suffering, the drought period that we experienced in August - with the exception of a storm on the 13th - until the harvest. This hydric balance permitted the leaves to fully function in their role of sugar producers and the grapes could completely ripen.
Thanks to their experience of selective picking, our harvest team totally respected the natural near-perfection of the grapes. Moreover, we left aside for a second passage the vines that were overloaded or the young ones that were not fine enough.
As a result, the grapes that passed by on the sorting table are among the most beautiful we have ever seen. As in 1999 or 2005, there were a lot of small clusters, many millerandage berries, and as a sign of the great years, the old vines, not very productive in general, yielded this year a generous harvest of small berries, sumptuous examples of the finest Pinot Noir.
We also observed a phenomenon typical of great years: the grapes that were most exposed to the sun had roasted and contained nearly concentrated sugar that was released at the end of the fermentation. As a result of this occurrence, the wine experienced a truly natural and progressive sugar enrichment that resulted in higher degrees than those we noted at the beginning of fermentation.
As regards quantity, it is satisfactory too: due to the beautiful bunch setting, which was the same for all the fruits this year, and the generous flowering, the size of the harvest can be compared with 1999 or 2005.
The vines were harvested in the following order:
On September 10th: the Cortons where maturity was well in advance of Vosne-Romanée
On September 13th: the Richebourg
On September 14th: the Romanée-Conti
On September 14th and 15th: the La Tâche (the grapes of the young eight-year-old vineyards were so fine that we decided to include them in the great cuvée)
On September 15th and 16th: the Romanée-St-Vivant
On September 17 and 18th: the Grands-Echezeaux
On September 18th and 19th: the Echezeaux
Montrachet: the maturity of the Pinots and Chardonnays evolved strangely and unusually over the year. The Chardonnays were late to flower, at least one week behind the Pinots. But their reaction was so active in the last hot weeks that the difference in maturity noticed all through the growing season had almost disappeared by harvest time.
The Montrachet was harvested on September 15th, before we completed the harvest of the reds. The fruit is so beautiful, golden-coloured, ultra ripe, in a word sumptuous and beyond description that we have great hopes that it will be one of our most exceptional Montrachet.
At the time of this writing, on October 7th, fermentations are slow, regular and reach high temperatures naturally. The quality of the grapes and the richness of the "material" enable us to look for long vattings. Colours are red-garnet, almost black. It is a vintage of high lineage, at the level of the wonderful grapes that we harvested, that seems to be at birth in the vats.
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
|12 445€ +20.6%||10 322€ -6.0%||10 983€ -3.1%||11 332€|