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Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2001

by Andy Cook, 04/04

The Royal College of Surgeons was a fitting venue for this special tasting. On the one hand, a charming and grandiose dining room befitting the finest wines. On the other, a large and equally grand reception hall made a little less inviting by the presence of dissected livers immersed in formaldehyde a timely reminder that over-indulgence is not a great thing.

However, over-indulgence was not the order of the day. The wines of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti maybe expensive, and they may be the pinnacle of many wine enthusiasts' tasting career, but their flavours bear no mark of over-indulgence. Balanced, stylish and complete certainly, but no hint of excess.

This is perhaps a reflection of Aubert de Villaine himself, who has worked at the Domaine since the 1960s. His reserved, aristocratic style is very much reflected in the wines. His leanings towards poetry maybe also bear a part in the ephemeral qualities of the production. It must be stressed that the concentration, balance and purity of all the wines was truly outstanding.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2001

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echézaux 2001
Quite a stalky nose, with almost sherbety fruit and a touch of sur-maturité. Surprisingly soft fruit on the palate, with a little lift of perfume. Tannins already approachable. Lovely, but perhaps a little simple, and not typical of the vintage.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grands Echézaux 2001
A more opulent nose than the Echézaux, with perfume and sweet fruit. Palate is again fuller, and spicier, although there is still a slightly raisiny side. Quite tight and promising, and the length is already very good.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-St.-Vivant 2001
A really delightful nose - lavender, sage and butterscotch. Truly uplifting. The palate is as good - a balance of dense, dark fruits and herby, floral notes. Like a great Musigny, this is enchanting and complete. Great acidity and length too. Excellent.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richbourg 2001 A big nose - slightly volatile with chocolate and dark, ripe fruit. Has a heady perfume which comes and goes. Pure Pinot fruit - sweet wild raspberries - manages to be very clean but dense and brooding too. Not showing full richness yet, but impressive and very, very good.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tâche 2001
A showstopper. You can almost smell the texture - cream and boiled sweets. Has a wonderful crème anglaise character on the palate, with ripe berry fruit, and a hint of spicy oak. Opened up enormously over the course of 30 minutes to a hearty, full-blown Burgundy that somehow exercises restraint too. Excellent.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti 2001
Minerals, bay leaves, tar and sage on the nose. The infamous complexity of this wine showed as it seemed different on each sniff and sip over half an hour. Certainly herbal hints of brush, sage, ferns and dusty forest fruit. So complex, it really needs years to come out of itself. After hour, sweet cassis fruit and thick texture emerge. I have never tasted anything like it, and would love to taste it again in 15 years. Beguiling and excellent.

  Andy started work in the wine trade in France, including time as winemaker's assistant in Provence, the Ardeche and Fitou. In the late 1990s he set up Luvians, an independent fine wine and whisky merchant in St. Andrews, Fife. However, the lure of winemaking returned and having graduated with a degree in oenology from Lincoln University in New Zealand, Andy took his first wine making job in the Roussillon region of France. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti brought their newly-bottled vintage to Edinburgh for a tasting. Tom Cannavan has filed his full report, but as wine-pages contributor Andy Cook was also in attendance, we decided to offer a second-opinion, in the form of this report.