On a rainy and cold day in Burgundy it’s nice to focus on something positive and invigorating … and what could be better that a visit at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti tasting the latest vintage – 2016 in this case.
The tasting this year was conducted by Alexandre Bernier, who also was in charge of the tasting when I first visited Domaine de la Romanée-Conti around five years earlier – back then to taste the 2011s from cask.
Well five years has passed, and while i’m still equally impressed and somewhat lost for words when I enter the cellars of this legendary estate – I must say that the 2016s served on this occasion left me somewhat starstruck as did the 2015s tasted with Bernard Noblet in January 2017.
The 2016s from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – variations of greatness
The 2015 were truly great from cask last year, and perhaps also more predictable than the 2016s tasted this time. The 2016 vintage show quite some variation in both style and quality – hence also at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – although this perhaps is more related to the style of the individual cuvées than to quality.
The 2016s are cooler and more classic pinots than the 2015s, although the 2015s also are truly magnificent with a few of the wines rather close to my definition of perfection – can the 2016s match them?
While the 2015s might be bigger and even better in a sense – the 2016 lineup do perhaps win the battle for passion and sympathy, as lovers of classic refined Burgundies sometimes would trade in some of the warm generosity of the 2015s for the transparency and elegance of the 2016s.
In 2016 I see the precise Corton, the intense Grands Echezeaux and the effortless Richebourg as the favourites together with at otherworldly Romanée-Conti.
On the day I had the feeling that the Grands Echezeaux could match the 2015, as it’s low yield intensity seems to elevate it to another level – without compromising the refinement and expression of terroir.
The Richebourg could perhaps come close to the 2015 – and the Romanée-Conti 2016 is also truly magnificent – perhaps not quite matching the 2015? … but will most likely be preferred by quite many due to it’s spectacular cooler refinement – the cool and delicate beauty of Catherine Deneuve in Belle de jour springs to mind.
I could say the same about the Corton … a very elegant Corton in the making – without having any of the slightly austere power found in some 2015 Cortons – the tannins are sometimes a factor in the 2015s – good or bad.
The effect of the frost
The frost have had a big impact on many wines in 2016 – so also the case at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The frost struck very hard on the DRC plots in Ecehzeaux and Grands Echezeaux and even harder in Batard-Montrachet and Montrachet.
No whites made in the 2016 vintage (The DRC Montrachet is included in the joint Montrachet made by six producers in the southern end of the Montrachet vineyard read the full story here).
Only around 10% to 15% of the normal yield from the Flagey-Echezeaux vineyards – hence very intense and concentrated wines from Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux – and very limited quantities.
Very interestingly the Echezeaux really shows this density, whereas the Grands Echezeaux do so with considerable more feminine refinement than the Echezeaux. It’s nothing short of a miracle how all that intensity has been packed into the refined and delicate framework of the truly excellent Grands Echezeaux 2016.
The Echezeaux is indeed very fine – but one feel more of the dense and concentrated side – than found in the airy and effortlessly elegant Grands Echezeaux. Lets see how the Echezeaux will shape and show after the final racking and elevage.
Tasting of the 2016s from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
The wines were tasted Thursday November 9th – on a cold leaf day (just changing from flower) – so perhaps not under the most ideal circumstances, as the low temperatures in the cellar and presumably also the moon can bring the tannins a bit forward in the wines. The wines were nevertheless mostly very accessible .. expressing a lot of refinement and energy.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Corton 2016
The Corton is very elegant and refined – like other top Cortons tasted in this vintage. It comes from a blend of Corton Clos du Roy, Les Bressandes and Les Renardes. The intense and energetic fruit from the 2016 vintage does add some refinement to the Corton – plenty of juicy fruit – without the slight austere power that often appear in wines from this appellation. The 2015 was about pure and vibrant power – the 2016 is offering lighter and more feminine fruit – more red notes and plenty of freshness from the acidic driven backbone of the vintage. It has a light-footed side – it’s airy and effortless – with a considerable elegance and finesse. A very elegant Corton in the making
(Drink From 2035) – Outstanding (95 – 96p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Echezeaux 2016
The Echezeaux was very badly hit by the frost – and the yields are therefore minuscule. With the rather deep soil of the DRC plots this constitutes a rather robust and slightly dense wine – at least at this stage. The fruit is quite a lot darker and more weighty than the Grands Echezeaux – interesting considering that the Grands Echezeaux also suffered really bad from the April frost – hence also made from grapes harvested with a very low yield. The Grands Echezeaux is almost a miracle in the 2016 vintage – the Echezeaux does not quite match this regarding refinement and energy. A very substantial Echezeaux in the making, will be interesting but difficult to follow.
(Drink From 2035) – Outstanding (94 – 96p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Grands-Echezeaux 2016
The Grands Echezeaux is truly outstanding – low yield refinement at it’s very best. While the yields were extremely low – the wine is very effortless, refined airy and delicate – covering your palate with the finest and most energetic pinot flavours. It’s elegantly generous – dancing over the palate with it’s vibrant and energetic fruit. So much intensity yet still quite classic offering all the virtues one could want in a red Burgundy. A truly outstanding or even extraordinary Grands Echezeaux in the making.
(Drink From 2035) – Outstanding+++ (96 – 97p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée Saint-Vivant 2016
The Romanée Saint-Vivant seem to be on equal terms with the very intense Grands Echezeaux – and while it’s truly outstanding, its definitely in fierce company in the 2016 vintage, as the Richebourgs seem to shine even more – with more mid-palate energy than the RSV’s. It’s not a big difference – but tasted at this stage, I would give my nod to the Richebourg. That being said the 2016 Romanée Saint-Vivant offer outstanding intensity, gorgeous balance and length – with a lovely display of detailed fruit and Vosne spices. It’s very balanced and offer all the refinement one would expect from this terroir.
(Drink From 2037) – Outstanding+ (96 – 97p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Richebourg 2016
The Richebourg 2016 is showing gorgeously – so vibrant, pure and energetic – with a sensual touch rarely seen from a Richebourg. The bouquet is offering layers of cool energetic fruit – an explosion of detailed forest berries, Vosne spices – effortless, detailed and delicate. On the palate very fine intensity without feeling powerful or dense – it’s just caressing you palate with multiple layers of cool and juicy fruit – infused with a detailed minerality and spiciness. At the moment hard to surpass even for the mighty La Tâche.
(Drink From 2039) – Extraordinary (97 – 98p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche 2016
As with the Romanée Saint-Vivant – the mighty La Tâche is not unfolding fully currently. The upper core part of Vosne-Romanée is really showing well at this stage – with La Romanée, Romanée-Conti and the core of Richebourg seems to have a higher level of energy and effortless delicacy! That being said La Tâche is an truly extraordinary wine – that can match almost all wines made in Vosne-Romanée in 2016 – it’s focused, intense – offering layers of cool and vibrant fruit – well structured in it’s large mineral framework. It does however in my view come short of the magnificent 2015 – and is in a close run with the extremely refined Richebourg in the 2016 vintage. But lets see when the elevage is done – and the wines are bottled.
(Drink From 2040) – Extraordinary (97 – 98p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2016
The Romanée-Conti is taking depth and refinement to another level – combining the effortlessness of the Richebourg and the intensity of Grands Echezeaux to another dimension of verve and energy. The mid-palate fruit is almost bursting with energy and detailed delicacy. It’s perhaps not of the magnitude of the 2015, but does have a sensual delicacy matched by few or none of the Burgundies I have tasted over the last 30 years. Points, scores, words and other man made concepts can’t describe the delicate beauty of this wine. Who cares if it’s better or bigger than the 2015 – one can only be so lucky to taste these wines once – I had my treats! A Legendary wine for the few and lucky.
(Drink From 2042) – Legendary (98 – 100p) – tasted on 09/11/2017
The quality of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti lineup is tremendously high indeed, and all wines are not surprisingly highly recommended in this vintage – the Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux will be very difficult to find anyhow – due to the low quantities.
I do however have some favourites, as the vintage does seem to favour some terroirs more than others. Firstly I find the Corton very interesting and refined – as this is a gorgeous year on the Corton hill – if not a unique year.
Next up is the Grands Echezeaux, as this is often overshadowed by the Vosne Grand Crus. The exuberant intense low yield fruit seem to go very well with the generous nature of this terroir, as the mid-palate intensity sort of completes the wine and take it to another level – a hedonistic delight – this could well be the greatest Grands Echezeaux I have tasted at least.
The Richebourg stand out currently as the overachiever of the vintage – showing so beautifully at this stage. I must however say that Romanée-Conti takes it to another level … or another world with it’s effortless delicacy and display of detail and refinement.
So are they better than the 2015s? – I really don’t know!. Time will show, and presumably not in my time. I do however have a feeling that the Richebourg and perhaps the monumentally intense Grands Echezeaux could edge ahead of the the 2015s – whereas the rest are trailing the hedonistic 2015s quality wise.
If I wanted to take the puristic stance – I would say that the 2016s are more classic – hence preferring these. I do however admit to my vices – and enjoy the tremendous generosity of the 2015s – gladly and with a big smile.
I still recall the hedonistic 1971 La Tâche tasted two decades ago – and while I don’t compare this to the 2015s – it does or at least did represent a another rather generous vintage – providing such lovely hedonistic pleasures.
We are indeed blessed by great wines …
Lastest Tasting Notes for this producer
- Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Saint-Vivant 2009 – 7 years after October 23, 2019
- Hope for an old Romanée-Conti, and a delightful Dujac 1976 September 27, 2019
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Echezeaux 2008 July 6, 2018
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tâche 2011 July 6, 2018
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Richebourg 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tâche 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Romanée Saint-Vivant 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Grands Echezeaux 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Echezeaux 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Corton 2015 July 13, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Echezeaux 1993 January 1, 2017
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Richebourg 2002 April 29, 2016
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Montrachet 2009 April 29, 2016
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Richebourg 2004 April 29, 2016
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tâche 2002 April 29, 2016
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Echezeaux 1993 February 15, 2016
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tâche 1990 January 26, 2016
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Echezeaux 2004 December 2, 2014
- Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, La Tâche 2011 October 10, 2014
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