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Burgundy 2017 was a welcome relief for growers, due to its abundant quantity and much applauded quality. The vintage was released at the peak of the Burgundy market, when the region’s prices had reached record highs. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Burgundy’s most iconic brand, was no exception.
Yesterday, Neal Martin released his notes from tasting DRC 2017 in bottle at a London Corney & Barrow event that allowed him to compare vineyards that share the “same grape, same producer and same approach” side by side. No easy task to judge objectively, the critic said, but it “would be an abdication of responsibility if I did not place the latest releases within the context of previous vintages and those producers disadvantaged by not being called Domaine de la Romanée-Conti”.
La Tache was Martin’s top-scoring wine, “one of [his] favourite Burgundy wines [….] irrespective of its history, status or price”. Martin revealed that the “monopole yielded over 2,000 cases in 2017, about the same as Petrus” though “its relatively large production [remains] widely overlooked”.
Romanee Conti, which Martin described as “effortless on the palate, beguiling and harmonious” came second with 96 points as the 2017 La Tâche “possesses greater complexity”.
The DRC, Tache index has risen 113% over the past five years, compared to a more modest 88% increase for Romanee Conti. The biggest riser from the DRC sub-indices, however, is Echezeaux (171%), which has historically offered one of the lowest entry points into the brand.
The 2017 Echezeaux received 91 points and Martin said that “you could almost broach it now, but that would be sacrilege – wouldn’t it?”
“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.
Wine Advocate Review
Wafting from the glass with a deep and complex bouquet of dark wild berries, cassis, wilted rose petals, blood orange, exotic spices, licorice and coniferous forest floor, the 2017 Romanee-Conti Grand Cru is full-bodied, satiny textured and multidimensional. It's just as powerful as this year's La Tache but even more elegantly framed by filigree structure, concluding with an intensely sapid and penetratingly fragrant finish. Pristinely balanced, this young Romanee-Conti possesses huge reserves for the long haul despite its deceptively supple youthful appeal, and it will reward extended bottle age. Drink 2033-2070.
BURGUNDY 2017 - In 2017, everything came good for the Bourgogne winegrowing region in terms of both quality and quantity. And after several years of harvests that suffered the whims of the weather, 2017 has provided volumes set to satisfy the market, with wines that are already promising great things to come from this elegant vintage.
After spending the winter building up their strength, the vines profited fully from a very warm spring, with budburst in early April ensuring a head start in terms of the growth cycle that was maintained right up to the harvest. The plants progressed from stage to stage free from hindrance, and by mid - June, were flowerin g before rapid fruit set. An early vintage was confirmed.
During the summer, a few spells of heatwave alternated with more mixed weather. However, ripening continued at a good pace and by the end of August, the first grapes were being picked, two weeks a head of average . Harvesting continued until mid - September as each plot reached peak maturity . The grapes were in exceptional health and required virtually no sorting. Everyone was very enthu siastic about this fabulous fruit, its peak ripeness, and the volumes produced. The only downside were a few areas hit by spring frosts , where yields were below norms .
Vinification went without a hitch and the mood was one of serenity for this vintage wh en the Bourgogne winegrowing region returned to more habitual levels of quality and quantity.
From the north to the south of the Bourgogne winegrowing region, opinion is unanimous: The 2017 vintage is one of the most elegant expressions of the Chardonnay grape, with perfectly balanced wines and a wonderful aromatic profile. They are crisp , with notes of citrus and white - fleshed fruit. Aeration triggers the release of h ints of peach and apricot, while in the mouth, minerality and tension balance out this rich, fruit - filled palette. A very fine vintage indeed!
Intense, dazzling colors ranging from ruby to garnet. From first glance, these wines simply invite one to taste them. Notes of red and black berries in these extremely expressive wines are another sign of indulgence, while perfect balance in the mouth comb ined with silky tannins results in a very harmonious ensemble that is subtle and without opulence.