Jamie Goode tastes the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2019 releases
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, usually just referred to as DRC, is one of the world’s most celebrated wine estates. I can’t think of any other that would eclipse the wines of this producer, such is the reverence in which the wines are held.
Each February, the exclusive agents in the UK, Corney & Barrow, hold a tasting of the new releases (with all except the Montrachet, which is made in too-small quantities to show here). It attracts the trade and press, who taste in reverent almost-silence. [It really is a special privilege to benchmark with wines like these, which otherwise you wouldn’t get to taste much.]
So the 2019s are the latest to go on sale. It was a hot vintage in Bourgogne, with a few heat spells. Spring was dry and warm, and this was good enough, but it meant that unusually there was some hydric stress during flowering in June. Vines are pretty picky during flowering, and drought is enough to cause some coulure and millerandage. Flowering was also spread out over a long (15 day) period. Overall, this was a hotter vintage than the famously hot 2003.
Harvest was early, and the grapes were ripe, in good hygiene, with thick skins and small berries. On the sorting table, raisined berries were eliminated, and the stems were trimmed (the reds are 90-100% whole cluster with the exception of Romanée-Saint-Vivant, which is 80%). This was the first vintage for a new wine: the Corton-Charlemagne, which is from a 2.9 hectare plot leased from Bonneau du Matray.
What really strikes me about these wines is just how different they all are. The winemaking, it seems, has a transparency to it that allows the different vineyards to be expressed, through the lens of this vintage. I found the wines a bit warmer and riper than in more typical vintages (what is a typical vintage these days?), but still very impressive. Prices are in bond (so you need to add duty plus VAT to get retail prices).
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Corton 2019 Bourgogne, France
This is now the 11th vintage of this wine. Wonderfully aromatic, fresh and vital with raspberry and cherry fruit as well as hints of green, and some fine spices. So aromatic. Juicy cherry and raspberry fruit on the palate with nice tannins and a fine spicy structure. There’s a touch of slight charry, spicy oak, too. Very fresh with lovely intensity, showing a direct, assertive personality. 94/100 (£1100 per 3)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Échézeaux 2019 Bourgogne, France
Floral, expressive nose with some bass notes. There’s a touch of savoury olive-like character. The palate has structure and some spiciness, with a hint of pepper and herbs. It is quite robust with good tannin, and pretty fruit. There’s substance here: lots of personality, finishing a little sweet. 95/100 (£1350 per 3)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Échézeaux 2019 Bourgogne, France
Very sweet cherry and strawberry fruit on the nose with lovely rounded, pure cherry fruit on the palate. The warmth of the vintage is evident with a sweet fruit core. Enticing, smooth and silky, this is a really textural wine. 95/100 (£2050 per 3)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg 2019 Bourgogne, France
Lighter coloured than the other wines. This has such a fresh, floral nose with red cherries and a touch of cranberry, as well as a slight green hint. The palate is vivid and fresh with a slight beetroot notes and lovely cherry and raspberry fruit. There’s a sense of transparency and also lovely sweet fruit. Such a distinctive wine. 97/100 (£3240 per 3)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-St-Vivant 2019 Bourgogne, France
Vibrant red cherry aromas with a savoury, spicy framing. The palate is concentrated and intense with vivid, spicy, structured sweet raspberry and cherry fruit. Lovely vivid fruit here: it has a wall of sweet, supple, bright fruit with finesse and structure. 97/100 (£3300 per 3)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2019 Bourgogne, France
Dark and brooding on the nose with intense black cherry and spice, a hint of earth, and a faint trace of beetroot. The palate is vivid and fresh with sweet black cherry fruit. Brooding, with a spicy structure under the fruit. Quite tight, now, but with lots of sweet fruit lurking under the structure. 96/100 (£1250/bottle)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 2019 Bourgogne, France
Aromatic black fruit nose with savoury spices, earth and a twist of tar. The palate is vivid with fresh acidity and good structure. Complex black fruits; unfurled and dense; with lots of structure. Nice intensity here for this robust wine which has some grip and plenty of potential. 97/100 (£3600/bottle)
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Corton-Charlemagne 2019 Bourgogne, France
Beautiful aromatics: floral and fresh with a spicy mineral edge, with lime to the fore. The palate combines freshness with richness, showing lovely intensity of citrus fruit and a touch of pineapple. There’s also a pronounced mineral streak. Fine and expressive with great purity. A sensational first effort. 96/100 (£2200 per 3)