If there is a “holy grail” in the world of wines it is difficult to argue against one famous producer from Vosne-Romanée in the Côte de Nuits. This hallowed ground is the home of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti which produces some of the most expensive and sought after wines in the world. The natural and organic production methods carry through from compost of vine roots, skins and musts, use of horses to avoid soil compaction, all the way to the straw mat sleeves that surround each bottle for shipping. Our bailliage had the opportunity to buy an assorted case of Grand Cru reds from the 2000 vintage and started the new year with this rare treat. Market value at the time of this writing was well beyond $10,000.
We met at the tasting room of Vice Echanson Gordon Hullar and had a sumptuous buffet prepared by Michael Forgus to match our esteemed lineup. After a reception with some Aligoté from the Chalonnaise, we approached our seats with great anticipation. When sampling wines of such magnitude any rating becomes secondary since all are of such high quality. More fun is had by noting what makes each one distinct from the others. We put them in an order close to, if not exactly, what vigneron Aubert de Villaine would recommend.
Our entry was the Échézeaux with a bright youthful nose and restrained character underpinned with satisfying fruit. Rather than having the Grands Échézeaux next, we instead had the Romanée-St.-Vivant which almost jumped out of the glass and onto the palate with forward fruit and spicy oak. The Richebourg was much more contemplative with complex aromas of smoke, fruit, leather and perfume that made for long enjoyment before tasting. Rich lush flavors with an even balance made way to a delicate feminine finish. Finally we came to the Grands Échézeaux with a perfume that developed beautifully with time in the glass. The medium weight body gave way to a very long finish that remained delicate to the end.
This left the two most venerated Grand Crus to savor. Given the exclusivity of Romanée-Conti, only one bottle is put in a mixed case. The recompense is that three bottles of La Tâche are included which is widely thought to have the best consistency whether a vintage is favorable or difficult. This bottling made a superb showing with a magic ethereal nose of perfume and earthiness. Full rich flavors with dark cherry gave a long deep finish that tasted wonderful now yet would accede to extended cellaring. Our grand finale was the Romanée-Conti having an incomparable elegance starting with a complex nose both sweet and leathery. The body started relatively light but developed on mid-palate and gave an impression of mysterious depth that is sure to increase in years to come. While the stratospheric prices are breathtaking, it truly is in the spirit of Mondiale to share such bottles among confrères who can appreciate the best. Salut!
J.T. Mayer, Vice Chargé de Presse