There will be a lot of great Burgundy drunk this week at La Paulée events and auctions, and that had me thinking about a special day where I tasted some of one of its finest. Eighteen vintages of Romanee-Conti is practically a lifetime worth of experience, but thankfully one Sunday this Fall, it was one spectacular tasting. The 1990 was a head above the rest, but there was a lot of jockeying behind it. A tasting this historic needs detailed notes, so I figured I better plant a flag to make me do it before this fades into the graveyard of never “posted” bottles. It’s a big plot of virtual real estate lol. All this dang work gets in the way a lot! Big thanks to King Richard and Sir Michael for organizing an unforgettable afternoon.
The 2015 had a deep, dark nose with lots of stalky and rocky fruit and a whiff of good wood from the forest. Red and purple flowers were abundant in this deep wine. Its palate was rich and long, and while still young it didn’t feel too young. There was lots of garden goodness to the palate in a royal way. There was a great, tight, rusty edge and loads of acidity on its “luscious palate of extraordinary power,” noted one. James Suckling noted “dried strawberry and baby fat – for a baby that goes to the gym” 😂 (98pts)
The 2014 didn’t thrill me as much as a bottle I had on its own recently, but it was still outstanding. The (wine) company you keep can affect your experience! This bottle had a more cedary edge this time, with much more acidity than I remembered. It was another rich and hearty red, with a beefier side but still a delicate finish. It got leaner in the glass as cedar and ‘tea’ came out along w ‘wild herbs and fennel.’ (95pts)
The 2010 was extremely tight and unyielding at first. It, too, was on the cedary side but times two with lots of dry components like desert, rock and minerals. Its terroir and acidity unfurled, and this really benefitted from air more so than any other – its finish flexed its superiority with time but it still needed it! (96+pts)
The 2009 had a great nose of beef blood, rose, meat and iron. It was more open and deep and ‘a stunner’ per Suckling. The ‘09 had a great broth to it and was lush and round with hues of blue and black to go with the red and purple. There was a tenderness here I don’t usually see in 2009. It had the best balance of the quartet and was super stylish. The finish on all four wines set them apart in general. ‘Harmony and seamless tannins’ noted JS. (97pts)
We Have Liftoff
Oh That 1990
The 2008 immediately signaled the next step of maturity. There was a lot of good herbaceousness to go with a cedary and lemony personality, and plenty of wild herbs in this rusty RC, along with a bit of sweaty pheromones…these are all compliments! There was great richness to the palate with plenty of red fruits and a touch of tomato goodness. Its finish was more mellow than I expected, but it still had some vim and skip. I loved its emerging tomato flavors. There was a delicacy and spice with an Asian glaze to its flavors, and a nice oily edge. Great spice and rust appeared again in my notes, as did leathery finish. JS also noted a little greenness, and Hollywood Jef it’s ‘peppery finish.’ (96pts)
The 2005 was deep, dark and brooding. It was wound up, but in a regal and reserved way. There were aromas of cola, spice and cinnamon to go with its rich but very shy fruit. The palate came across extremely wealthy, ‘towering’ above anything else so far. The richness and flesh, and balance between the two, were extraordinary. This was red velvet city, dripping with jewels of fruit. It was still a bit shy, but everyone knew it was a star. This was a va va voom wine, so pure! Suckling summed it up succinctly as ‘stunning, emotional wine, perfect.’ (98+pts)
The 2001 had more exotic fruits on the apricot and peach side. There were orange hues to this very musky RC. There was lovely flavor and texture, but it wasn’t as long as the others. It seemed ready to go and very open. It was tender and friendly but light and advanced compared to everything else. Similar observations of ‘a little lean’ and ‘drying out’ came from the crowd. (94pts)
The nose on the 2000 was singing like Christmas with its spice and aromatics. There were red fruits and a bit of purple here, and a round and long nose intrigued. The 2000 continues to resonate as a connoisseurs’ vintage, and this was a great example. This was full-bodied with great minerality and spice – super special! Everything was in the right place at the right time, and food brought its greatness out even more. Hailed as ‘the surprise wine of the tasting,’ I already knew better 😉 (97pts)
Where were we RC? Right there with the 1999 which had a deep nose full of t n’ a and spice. Our host observed the relationship between ‘99 and ‘05. This was rich, explosive and plush with the oil and the pop. It had a darker, oilier palate than most and a touch of caramel in a rusty way. Rich rich rich with endless acidity, it reminded me of a recent 1990 but not quite there. BC found it ‘spectacular’ and King Richard ‘beautiful and powerful, worthy of its reputation.’ There was great length and spice on its finish. (98pts)
The 1995 had strawberry, cranberry and brighter red fruits. ‘Extraordinary, sexy wine’ came from the crowd. There was a gingerbread goodness to this elegant and well-bred wine. It had a sexy, delicacy type style. It was ‘peppery’ per the King and while outstanding, it was the least of this flight. (95pts)
The 1991 had such a deep nose with dark, Black Forest qualities and a touch of rust in between. It was smoky like a great BBQ with great balance between its meat and fruit. There was clarity to its style in its ‘supple and smooth’ ways. Delicacy came up in my notes, but the tannins expressed themselves here more than the 1995, which was considered even more tannic for many years. (97pts)
The 1990 was once again a rock star. Twice in one year, 2022 thank you 🙏 This will be the benchmark RC against which all others will be judged. Wow again – so concentrated, this was another level of richness from everything else that preceded. It almost had that signature 1947 Cheval motor oil. Smoky, nutty, rich and decadent, the 1990 had a super strong finish with layers of whips and chains. ‘Wine of the tasting,’ ‘ethereal, weightless, floating in the clouds,’ ‘has everything’ all came from the giddy crowd. Give it up for the 1990 RC!!!! (99+pts)
Crazy For the 80s
The One And Not Only
The 1985 DRC Romanee Conti had a tough act to follow. This was a typical showing for many 1985 DRCs, showing that dirty birdie side, a bit of shit if you will. It was earthy with tootsie pop flavors, and there was a meaty, horsey, animal quality to the palate. The finish was still zippy and lifted with its leather, but it couldn’t shake the dirt or the tootsie (94).
The 1980 DRC Romanee Conti was so good, much better than the 1985 and back to the Promised Land. It had gorgeous spice, and this expressive, oily and musky personality. Its length was impressive, and my lips were smacking with its musky greatness. ‘Such great cola’ emerged in this leathery and spicy wine, and menthol joined the party. ‘So 1980,’ I wrote. It was up there near the top of the food chain (98).
The 1979 DRC Romanee Conti was similar to the 1980 but with less menthol and cola. It had a rocky edge to it, but it was round and sweet, also with a nice oily component. This was a polished beauty, with a honeyed palate that was long and elegant with a flash of grip. This was a tasty wine that mellowed more in the glass (95).
Lastly, there was a 1966 DRC Romanee Conti. There actually was a 1978 and a 1971, but they were both DQ’d. That was a tough pill to swallow, but everyone was still giddy for all the other great bottles. The ’66 was exotic and sweet, a bit of a candygram compared to the others, with some exotic apricot to it. Acidity again unfurled on its finish, a trend for all the wines as they got older. The wine ended on a tropical note, and the day ended on a high note thanks to this legendary tasting (95).
Thanks again to King Richard and Sir Michael for organizing, and I hope to see many of you this week in New York so we can share more great Burgundy together at La Paulée, whether at our auctions Thursday or Friday or the Gala on Saturday! I won’t have more RC, but I will have some DRC to share and lots more goodies all week long 😊 . Come see us!