In December 2009 I was able to taste the red 2008 wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
These were tasted directly from barrel, and the wines will not be bottled until the spring of 2010. So this has to be a preliminary assessment.
Although less accessible and immediately seductive than the 2007s from the Domaine, the range shows more finesse and purity, and, at this stage, strikes me as potentially superior to 2007.
2008 is being described as a vintage to drink fairly young. In the case of these wines, their balance and intensity makes up for any loss of flesh and weight, and I suspect they will age well.
Echézeaux. Fairly deep red, with considerable depth of colour. Rich cherry nose, with just a hint of reduction. The attack is precise, and the palate surprisingly lean, racy, and tight, with the purity of red fruits that is a hallmark of 2008; this is elegant, spicy, and lively. 17.5-18
Grands Echézeaux. Fairly deep red, but less dense than Echézeaux. Muted red fruits nose, inexpressive now. The attack, as on Echézeaux, is lean and tight, and the wine’s high acidity means there is not a great deal of flesh now; this has great charm and purity, yet seems slightly pallid on the finish (perhaps because it was recently racked). Quite long. 17.5
Romanée St Vivant. Like all the remaining wines, the colour is a moderately deep red, with some depth and density. Dumb nose. The attack is sweet, fresh and intense, but the palate has more overt tannin and grip than Echézeaux or Grands Echézeaux; the wine is concentrated and firm, with some austerity at present. Long. 17.5-18
Richebourg. Dense cherry nose with considerable aromatic lift. The palate is sweet and ripe with ample concentration of fruit, but the tannins are less overt than in Romanée St Vivant. This has weight and spice and persistence, and while generously fruity there’s no lack of structure. Excellent length. 18-18.5
La Tâche. The nose shows more black fruits than red, although it’s not expressive now. Extremely concentrated on the palate, this is marked by very fine-grained tannins that give finesse and poise; fresh acidity lifts the mid-palate, which is delicious with discreet power. Harmonious and long. 18.5
Romanée-Conti. Sweet intense delicate nose, lifted though reticent. The attack is terrific, opening the door to a core of sweet fruit, balanced by firm but ripe tannins. This is marked by admirable purity married to a generous fruitiness; it has spice and vigour, drive and persistence, and seems complete. Romanée-Conti, when young, is often less impressive than La Tâche – not this year. Excellent length. 19