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2015 IS THE MOST REMARKABLE VINTAGE OF MY CAREER’
The 2015 vintage will go down as one of the ‘easiest’ vintages of the century, when nature plays a major role in wine quality. A damp but generally mild winter was followed by a warm, dry Spring and hot Summer. Early flowering continued by warm temperatures and moderate northerly winds, ensured even fruit ripeness. Long fermentations of whole bunch clusters produced rich, concentrated wines.
Aubert de Villaine said: “I have never seen a season where the vineyards were so beautiful from beginning to end.
“Normally in a season of high maturity – such as this one – they look tired but in 2015 they were fresh and still green when we picked.”
The wines themselves, he continued, had a “serenity and peacefulness” about them that was a “reflection of the well-being of the vineyards.”
“For me 2015 is out of the ordinary in quality. I’ve done over 50 vintages now [whether it was 51 or 52 he couldn’t quite recall] but it’s the most remarkable of my career.
‘The wines speak with such purity and transparency,” de Villaine went on. “The vintage is strong but not so strong that it hides the personalities of the wines.”
Their structure and tannins leave no doubt that the 2015s have what it takes to last a long time but their youthful suppleness and approachability led de Villaine to say it would, “not at all be a crime to drink this ‘youth’ now,” – a suggestive plea, perhaps, that these wines be drunk rather than spend their lives traded around the auction circuit.
Whatever the wines may be, of course, the chief problem with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and increasingly Burgundy in general is the getting of them and the price.
100 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2015 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru is one of the pinnacles of this great red Burgundy vintage, opening in the glass to reveal a bouquet of kaleidoscopic complexity, notes of raspberry and red plum mingling with rose petal, peony, blood orange and spice. On the palate, the wine is silky, medium to full-bodied and stunningly complete, its supremely elegant tannins entirely cloaked in pristinely delicate red fruit. Despite its incredible concentration and persistence, this Romanée-Conti is utterly weightless, and its effortless harmony and unremitting finish preclude any argument about its benchmark quality. Cropped at 22 hectoliters per hectare and harvested September 10.
99 points Allen Meadows - Burghound
Sometimes, try as I might, words fail to communicate adequately those few transcendent experiences where a wine is just so amazing that it's impossible to capture it. The 2015 Romanée-Conti would be one of those experiences so you will simply have to accept the limitations of the written word. The breathtakingly beautiful nose is restrained to the point of being almost mute yet aggressive agitation eventually reveals an exotically broad-range of highly perfumed floral, spice, tea and incense-like nuances. The opulently textured, concentrated and equally mineral-driven flavors accentuate the perfumed character of the nose as the inner mouth perfume just adds to the what is roughly akin to an sensorial assault, all wrapped in a finish that lasted for seemingly several days as I had no trouble recalling it over the next 48 hours. If there's any imperfection that I could detect, there is a hint of warmth but otherwise, this is pretty close to perfect. The word spectacular comes to mind but then again so does brilliant, fabulous and splendid. You get the idea, pretty damn remarkable.
98 points Vinous
Full dark red. Slightly darker and more reticent on the nose than La Tâche, dominated in the early going by black raspberry, cherry, spices, crushed rock and coffee. Enters the mouth like liquid velvet, expanding to show an incredible 3-D texture and great depth to its soil-inflected flavors of flowers, spices, mocha, underbrush and savory minerality. At the first sip, this utterly seamless, spherical yet rather youthfully impenetrable wine saturates the entire palate like a thunderstorm breaking out across a wide front. Today I don't find the typical early vegetal nuances of this wine, perhaps owing to the total ripeness of the vintage. Still an infant, this wine should easily evolve positively for three decades or more. When I spit this wine, I thought I still had it in my mouth, such is its impression of solidity.
As Bernard Noblet explained this is a wine from another world than the other wines of DRC. In 2015 this is indeed true – the detail, the refinement, the filigree sensuality is out of this world or perhaps even this Solar system. The bouquet is vibrating with filigree impressions of spices, red and dark fruit notes – elegantly expressed as the most fragrant, refined and enchanting perfume. This is finesse and delicacy – presented in the most effortless and zen like way. On the palate powerful yet very delicate offering layers upon layers of juicy and vibrant fruit – the inner energy and balance is mind-bending – as the wine caresses the palate .. this is perfection in my view – just so sensual and filigree. A Legendary (99 – 100p) wine in the making by Steen Öhman
“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.
2015 Harvest report - The vineyards celebrate their inscription to the Unesco World Heritage list.
This harvest does not resemble any other one: the berries are small and compact with no sign of millerandage and their skins are tight and full of anthocyanins and ripe tannins. There is average quantity and the early and ultra-fast flowering ensured an exceptionally homogeneous and complete maturity, without ever reaching over-maturity.
As always, we are delighted - but perhaps even more so this year as the vintage is most impressive - to give our thoughts on the harvest and to highlight the most important elements that created this exceptional vintage. If we send this report later than usual, it is because the vintage was so outstanding and amazing in every way that we preferred to wait until we had a clear idea of the wines after the fermentations in barrels: Nature has indeed taken to the extreme all the factors that are necessary to make great wines, but without ever going beyond the balance point.
Let us remember first that 2015 was marked by a great moment full of emotion for Burgundy: last July 4th in Bonn/Germany, the 21-member countries of the Unesco World Heritage Committee announced the inscription of the "Climats du Vignoble de Bourgogne" to the World Heritage list. The Committee recognized that it is in Burgundy that was born, that developed and prospered a viticulture rooted in a long history that represents a model for all the terroir-based viticultures all over the world and that created a Culture that one has to respect and preserve in order to pass it on to the next generations.
It was as if the vineyards had wanted to celebrate this prestigious distinction in being more beautiful than ever throughout the year and in being also more generous by giving us some of the most beautiful grapes ever produced. Still today, at the time of this writing, they show their most beautiful autumnal dress and their leaves that summer has left intact are glittering like never before with shades of fawn, purple and gold announcing their coming dormancy. These colors are also at the origin of this name of Côte d'Or that it bears now for eternity.
Winter was mild: the lowest recorded temperature was -6° C around February 12th and the heavy rains provided a reserve of water that was very useful as we experienced a dry season.
This trend of hot and dry weather first announced itself in the mild and dry spring, except for two episodes of violent rains on May 1st and June 15th that arrived at the right time to bring humidity to the vineyards.
This dry and hot weather accompanied by a persistent friendly North Wind had a determining impact on the harvest in creating the conditions for an early, very rapid and homogeneous flowering. We could also observe some "coulure", but almost no millerandage.
July was hot and dry, even scorching between July 2nd and 8th with night temperatures of 30° C. During the whole month only 14mm of rain were recorded. Heat was such some days that the evolution of the grapes was stopped. But we could see berries beginning to change color (veraison) in Romanee-Conti and in Corton as of July 27th.
The first two weeks of August were humid and mild, without any heat peaks. The vineyards breathed again and ripened quietly. Mid-veraison occurred around August 9th and we knew then that the harvest would take place in early September.
During the second fortnight of August, the North wind set in with beautiful dry weather and unseasonably high temperatures, especially at the end of the month when we went through a three-day heatwave.
All along, the vineyards remained perfectly green, healthy and connected to all the astral and telluric forces that give life to them. They liked the dry weather in 2015. The July heat-waves stopped their evolution at least twice, but each time these were counterbalanced by stormy episodes that brought the needed humidity. As a result, the evolution of the vineyards was nearly ideal and thanks to these exceptional weather conditions, 2015 was a rather easy vintage for the vigneron. We could always intervene in the right place at the right moment, whatever the work to be done: compost supply, manual work, work of the soil or phytosanitary treatments.
But nothing is perfect and the treatments, although exceptionally few, were essential at a time when there was a cloud on the horizon: oidium. This fungus that thrives during cold and damp nights took advantage of the rare rainy episodes of the spring to develop in the area of Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanée and Flagey-Echezeaux.
This attack forced us to be very vigilant, even if the dry weather and the North Wind were of great help in eradicating this fungus. Our wineyards manager, Nicolas Jacob, and his team triumphantly managed a situation that was complicated by the fact that the sulphur that we use against oidium loses its efficiency above the 30° temperature we often experienced in 2015.
At harvest time the grapes were in excellent sanitary condition, rather compact, but average in quantity. The skins of the berries were extraordinarily thick and full of anthocyanins. These had been forged by the sun whose intensity went so far as to burn some of them, and the slaps of the successive storms. No botrytis at all. But the most remarkable fact, which was also linked to the early and rapid flowering, was the level of maturity of the grapes. From this homogeneous flowering resulted a homogeneous and extreme maturity without ever reaching over maturity as in 2003. We noticed this balance in the analysis of the grape must at harvest time and today in the wines, the acidities being in perfect balance with the tannins and the rather high alcohol level.
We started the harvest in Montrachet on September 4th. The weather was dry and mild. The Chardonnay vineyards ripened very fast due to the very hot days of the second part of August and the very fast consecutive increase of sugar content led us to harvest this vineyard first. As a result, the grapes were ripe, of the highest quality and superbly golden predicting a very great white wine. This was also confirmed by the first tastings of the wine that is finishing its malolactic fermentations in barrels.
On September 5th we harvested the Corton and noticed that our pre-harvest impressions were right i.e. the Pinot Noir grapes that we picked were in perfect sanitary condition and very ripe. Thanks to the resistance of the grapes, there was no trace of botrytis, even on the second generation grapes (verjus) that we left on the vines and that waited until the end of October to ripen and make the dabbler vignerons happy!
After a day off, on Sunday 6th, we started the harvest in Vosne-Romanée on Monday 7th. Our instructions to the harvesters were as simple as ever since there was no botrytis and only the burnt berries were to be removed from the clusters that had been the most exposed to the sun. There were also some "figgy" berries, i.e ultra-ripe, but we had of course to keep them.
The beautiful, dry and mild weather lasted until September 12th, a day of heavy rains, but we were already in the Echezeaux, the last vineyard harvested that we finished on the 14th.
Here are the harvest dates and approximate yields:
Romanée-Conti: September 10 22 hl/ha
La Tâche: September 7-8 25 hl/ha
Richebourg: September 8-9 24 hl/ha
Romanée-St-Vivant: September 9-10-11 26 hl/ha
Grands-Echezeaux: September 11-12 30 hl/ha
Echezeaux: September 12-14 25 hl/ha
Corton: September 5 22 hl/ha
Montrachet: September 4 30 hl/ha
The phenolic maturity was fully completed and we chose to make the vinifications with the whole clusters, i.e. without destemming. Such vinifications are always a challenge. These were masterfully carried out by Bernard Noblet and his team.
Fermentations were rich, powerful and extremely long (21 to 23 days depending on the wine) due to the important polyphenol contents and the richness of sugar. Many small berries, whose skins were exceptionally resistant, released their juice only at the end of fermentations and even, for some of them, only under the force of the wine press.
The wines were put into vats with a little sugar which continued its fermentation in barrels bringing more suppleness and smoothness to the wines. Still today, in the silence of the cellar, we can hear the barrels whispering the song of the wine coming to life.
The wines have deep purple colors. On the nose, there is fruit and tannins are ample in the mouth. There is no trace of over-maturity as in 2003, but all the opulence and richness of extreme maturity.
The typical characteristics of the finished wines take shape: power and balance for the Richebourg, strength with a note of liquorice for La Tâche, elegancy and length in the mouth for the Romanée-Conti that is already above all the others.