Dancing on tiptoes - DRC 2011

by demetraWO#11:00:41:817


Wine Owners - Domaine de la Romanée Conti

I have to admit to an illness - if the invitation says from 8.30am, that's when I turn up. I hate to be late. After last Friday am I pleased to say that I am not alone; there are other people who obviously share this compulsion, or perhaps they just appreciate an empty tasting room to get on with the serious work of appreciating the craft of Burgundy's pre-eminent domaine. And what a pleasure it was, to taste and to have the chance to hear Aubert de Villaine's thoughts as he carefully spoke to each member of the trade or journalist in turn. The wines that were so fruity to taste at the domaine, I learned, today were a little less forward in the basement of No. 1 Thomas More Street. These are not wines that march to centre stage and loudly speak their lines, they impress with a more subtle stagecraft; delightful gestures and gently spoken words that nevertheless hang in the air. These are wines of finesse and haute couture perfume in 2011. As several fellow tasters commented 'this isn't 2010'. Indeed, but what these wines do possess is precision, elegance, and heavenly scents. The other attribute they all share is freshness, none more pronounced than in the Grands-Échézeaux. A nose of bright redcurrents and damsons with a touch of white pepper preceded an entrance of finely-grained intensity, followed by a creamy character, and a sustained prickle of acidity braiding the lifted fruit. Is 2011 a minor triumph for Grands-Échézeaux more generally? I've had some crackers. The Corton too, highlighted the freshness of these wines through a flinty, perfumed sea-breeze nose. Elegantly spiced, gently vibrant fruit leading to a lovely dry finish, suggesting a door closing but more to come the other side. Those heavenly scents were expressing themselves without hesitation in the initially explosive nose of the Échézeaux, before calming into gently perfumed pinot fruit. A firmly bitter fruited palate carried through to an insistent finish. Nonetheless the most tender of the range? The Richebourg's perfumed nose was altogether more powerful than any of the preceding appellations. An ever-changing, multi-faceted cloak lifting now and then to reveal subtle woody undertones. Here too was a cool edge but also a sense of the lip-smacking concentrated fruit to come. One of the most integrated on the palate, a fruit-liqueur-like texture ahead of the closed finish. Romanée-St-Vivant had more of an ungiving nose in contrast to the others. The red fruit of the previous wines replaced by flavours in an altogether darker vein. Liquorice and hints of dark chocolate followed a tightly coiled entry, swiftly followed by semi-frais currents. Confit depth and a long and structured finish. I love tasting young Burgundy that gives you hints as to its future potential behind an elemental mask. How can one ever truly know, but surely this is going to be 'une bombe'? La Tâche got me going with a mouthwatering nose - literally - of lifted, perfumed berries. The firmly fruited palate also expressed an underlying earthy mineral character, more grounded and masculine than the others. Dark fruits entranced and exited in turns. Very much on its reserve towards the finish. Romanée-Conti seemed like a big jump up, as Aubert had said it would be this year. Extraordinarily richly-fruited nose, the perfume this time submerged by rising darker notes. Waves of fruit on the palate washed over a sweet intense core. The vintage's freshness then showed itself with a lift of vibrant red berries before, once again, the darker fruits took over on the finale.

Nick Martin

Posted in: Fine wine appreciation, Wine Owners,
Tags: Corton, DRC, Échézeaux, fine wine, Grands-Échézeaux, La Tâche;, Richebourg, Romanée-Conti, Romanée-St-Vivant,

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