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La Tache

Romanée-Conti is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) and Grand Cru vineyard for red wine in the Côte de Nuits subregion of Burgundy, France, with Pinot noir as the primary grape variety. It is situated within the commune of Vosne-Romanée and is a monopole of the winery Société Civile du Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, which takes its name after this vineyard. Romanée-Conti borders on La Romanée in the west, Richebourg in the north, Romanée-Saint-Vivant in the east and La Grande Rue in the south. The AOC was created in 1936.

Wine from the vineyard is among the most sought after, and expensive, in the world. In October 2010, 77 bottles sold for a total of US$750,609 at auction; 3 bottles of the 1990 vintage were sold for US$72,000 in 2013.

Red

2007

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

Burgundy

96 DS

Mint 

3x75cl

1

IB

Still Wine

96 David Schildknecht

The 2008 La Tache amply illustrates why this monopole is the darling among most of those lucky enough to regularly taste or collect the wines of the Domaine de La Romanee-Conti. Hints of mocha, vanilla, maraschino, and almond paste lend a confectionary note to generously rich cassis and raspberry, while Latakia tobacco, peat, clove, black pepper, star anise, and cumin contribute commune-typical Vosne-Romanee personality in spades. The high-toned, sweet themes continue inner mouth, with intimation of heliotrope, rowan, and lily perfume, while the wine’s smoky, spicy elements seem to descend into a low-register undertone of roasted red meats and forest floor. As this opens to the air, a subtly sweet-saline suggestion of lobster shell reduction adds richness and succulence. Strikingly creamy in feel, this La Tache nevertheless possessed a fresh berry edge that helps convey vibrancy to a finish that practically glows in your mouth, offering another of those Burgundian paradoxes of light and dark. Here, de Villaine’s case for long-term potential is easily made, and I expect this will richly reward at least 15-20 years of attention.

Domaine de La Romanee-Conti director Aubert de Villaine perceives both the estate’s 2008 and 2007 collections as vins de garde, and I can’t argue with that assessment, even though when I first tasted the 2007s – soon after they had come out of malo – I harbored reservations, wondering whether to interpret de Villaine’s description of them as “ethereal” to read “ephemeral.” He says holding back the usual 5% share of production for the Domaine’s own cellar was difficult in the greatly reduced 2008 vintage, and that he is already regretting not having arranged to bottle a larger share in magnum. He still had time when I visited in April to reconsider the bottle format for three appellations, which were the only ones I was able to taste, since De Villaine is loathe to show wines in the first 9-12 months after bottling. (I’ll report on the full 2008 collection from bottle at a later date.) If the 2007s here were unusual for that vintage in the degree to which they gained stature in the course of elevage, such behavior was normal when it came to 2008, so that I was not surprised to hear de Villaine remark on a new-found degree of confidence in the stature of that collection. To an even greater degree than in most vintages, success in 2007 and 2008 came down to meticulousness at every stage; to quality of vine material; and to location, in all of which respects no estate in Burgundy has any advantage over the Domaine de La Romanee-Conti. Interestingly, the estate lingered no longer over the picking of their 2008s – from the first of the La Tache on September 27 to the last of the Echezeaux on October 6 – than they had over the 2007s, which were picked from September 1-11. The inclusion of stems was lowered to less than half in 2007, incidentally, but in 2008 was typically closer to three-quarters. Vendange entier is a technique not only time-honored and in continuous use at the Domaine de La Romanee-Conti (even when it fell out of favor at most Burgundy estates in the waning 20th century), but one which de Villaine and cellarmaster Bernard Noblet have subjected to repeated testing, so as to establish in any given vintage the right balance between 100% de-stemmed (“which lacks something by way of complexity,” says de Villaine) and 100% (“which can be too marked by the stems,” he continues).

 

93 Neal Martin

The La Tache 2007 has a rounded, quite elegant nose: dark cherry fruit, damp earth, tree bark and some clayey accents that develop with time. It is less herbaceous than when tasted out of barrel in June 2008 and it evolves an almost citrus/green lemon aroma with time in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied, very well balanced, harmonious and smooth in texture but belying quite a robust tannic structure. To be honest, it finishes rather bluntly with the leafiness lending it a leaner body than recent vintages, but it seems to be more mercurial than ever, constantly evolving in the glass and putting on weight all the time. Drink 2014-2022. Tasted November 2009.


Price: £8,389.00

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