Monday, March 2, 2015

Domaine de La Romanée-Conti 2012 Vintage Preview: A La Paulée tasting with Aubert de Villaine

One of the most highly anticipated events of the 2015 edition of La Paulée de New York was the Domaine de La Romanée-Conti (DRC) 2012 Vintage Preview which was to be held at Daniel and led by the Domaine's co-Director Aubert de Villaine. This event was the first sold out because: (i) of the high esteem in which the Domaine and its wines are held; (ii) it was going to be the first public tasting of this vintage since its bottling; and (iii) given the size of the vintage, there were probably not going to many tasting opportunities of this type in the future. Four of the Domaine's labels were scheduled to be included in the tasting.

Daniel Johnnes (La Paulée founder and Sommelier extraordinaire) introduced the event and then turned the floor over to Jack Daniels, principal of Wilson Daniels, DRCs US importer. Jack added his words of welcome -- to include that the wines had been opened 40 minutes prior and apologizing beforehand for the fact that allocations for this vintage were going to be exceedingly low. He then yielded to Aubert who began with an extensive discusssion of the vintage conditions.

According to Aubert, 2012 had been a vintage of constant change. It was warm in March but then became cold and rainy in April, making it very difficult to work in the vineyards. The vines flowered in the cold weather leading to millerandage. The weather became warm again in June but a heat wave therein caused the loss of some berries. The weather became better in July but then August brought storms. The berries experienced rapid sugar gains in the August- September period. There was no sign of botrytis so they waited to harvest and eventually began on September 21st. It rained for two days during harvest and remained cold. The berry skins were thick, however, and, in addition, the soil did not transfer water to the berries. The final 2012 crop was one-half to one-third the size of a healthy crop.

The wines tasted at the event were as follows:
  • DRC Échézeaux Grand Cru 2012
  • DRC Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 2012
  • DRC La Tâche Grand Cru Monople 2012
  • DRC Romanée-Conti Grand Cru Monople 2012
The Échézeaux exhibited pale strawberry, creaminess, and leather on the nose. On the palate ripe Pinot fruit, attractive levels of acidity, spice, balance, and great length. Slight astringency and long, drying finish.

The RSV was less structured than the Échézeaux. On the nose a floral rose aroma along with ripe Pinot fruit, vanilla, and a hint of reduction. On the palate ripe fruit, complexity, and a long, sweet finish. Somewhat reserved and mysterious. A sense of something hidden.

The La Tâche exhibited layered Pinot fruit, richness, wax, and earth. On the palate strawberry, hot spices, baking spice and a long finish.

The Romanée-Conti had cherry, tree bark, and baking spice on the nose to go along with hot spice and savoriness on the palate. Complexity and power. Long, balanced finish.

In his summarization of the tasting Aubert indicated that the 2012 DRCs had a tendency towards reduction. They had persistence and depth on the palate and are all approachable at this time. They were recently bottled and he was surprised at how well they have taken to the bottle. They are still young but, even at this early stage, are already displaying their individual characteristics:
  • Échézeaux: character
  • RSV: an elegant nose yet austere and hard in the mouth
  • La Tâche: layering
  • La Romanée-Conti: reserved complexity.
He saw the wines of the vintage as being somewhat akin to those of 1991 and 1992 but cautions that we should take them as they are.

Aubert then turned the proceedings back over to Daniel Johnnes for the closing and he reminded us that these wines were th epitome of terroir wines in that they are farmed and vinified similarly yet exhibit such different characteristics.
These wines were all of exceptional quality and will bring years of pleasure to those "fortunate" enough to acquire (now) and drink (later) from the miniscule stock.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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