There is something quite nice about being handed a glass of Champagne at 8:30 in the morning. It really helps get the palate going and wakes up the senses (at least for a little while). That’s how I started my day on Monday (February 8th) at the Pennisula Hotel in Beverly Hills when Aubert de Villaine was in town to present the 2007 vintage of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. I have been to several of these tastings and I have to admit, for me it is a nice change of pace. Literally. Usually I run though wines quickly, trying to get as much as I can out of them in as little time as possible. At this tasting, the seven wines were tasted side-by-side, and slowly over the course of an hour, with Mr. Villaine discussing the characteristics of the vintage and each wine in detail. Rather than drinking to decide whether we would take our allocation—that is kind of a given—the tasting gave me an overall impression of these wines and of the vintage in Burgundy as a whole.
The 2007s showed exceptionally well. It is a forward, elegant vintage that should not be described as “classic;” that term seems to be used for harder, more rustic wines such as 1996. The wines will show well upon release and should develop nicely over the next 10-15 years. Picking began on September 1st—very early. Usually when a harvest begins this early the wines are very high in alcohol, as in 2003. Monsieur Villaine said he had never seen a vintage picked so early where the wines showed so much elegance. Alcohol levels all remain in the 12.5 -13% range. This is partially because the flowering started in the extremely warm month of April. The most successful wines in 2007 will be the wines where winemakers recognized the elegance of the vintage and did not try to over-extract.
2007 DRC “Echezeaux” – Seemed a bit disjointed; a bit closed; this is a very good wine, but it has yet to come together.
2007 DRC “Grands Echezeaux” – More together than the first wine; silky fruit in the mid-palate but a bit short on the finish. Wonderful aromas.
2007 DRC “Romanée St-Vivant” – Bright red fruits, spicy, very delicate and sweet. Straightforward and balanced. Lovely wine.
2007 DRC “Richebourg” – Exotic nose, fresh, bright, silky texture, tons of sweet red fruits, spice and a hint of sweet herbs on the finish, which should develop with bottle age. Always one of my favorites.
2007 DRC “La Tache” – The La Tache is always my favorite of the bunch. Much more powerful and darker then the rest, this wine shows hints of tobacco, spice, earthy undertones and exceptional concentration. If I was to buy one wine to drink within 10 years this would be it.
2007 DRC “Romanée-Conti” – A more difficult wine to understand young. Delicate, sweet and slightly green, this wine is the most complex of the bunch. It is elegant and understated. Mr. Villaine says that that green characteristic is usually present when young, but with age those flavors develop into the wine. He says that when the La Tache is at its best, this wine will just be beginning to show its potential.
2007 DRC “Montrachet” – Hard not to love this wine young! Layered, creamy and concentrated, it has wonderful acidity and focus. It will age very well. Very different from the 2003, which was a fatter, richer style.
Mr. Villaine did talk a bit about the upcoming Corton project from vines they have recently acquired. The first vintage will be 2009, though he is still not sure if the wines will fall into the Romanée-Conti label or not. Still too early to tell; the quality of the wine will determine that. As for the progress, he is very happy.