Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, producer of some of the world's most expensive wines, has released its Burgundy 2013 vintage range - with quantities even smaller than usual. Read Steven Spurrier's tasting notes on the wines and also comments from both Spurrier and the estate on the 2013 vintage.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – or DRC as it’s known to insiders – has attained an almost other-worldly status for many wine lovers; and every drop of every allocation is fiercely cherished by those lucky enough to have one.

Steven Spurrier, Decanter consultant editor, attended a tasting of the newly released DRC 2013 wines in London. Scroll down this post to read his tasting notes.

DRC 2013 vintage summary

Steven Spurrier says:

‘2013 in Burgundy was the third “difficult” vintage and the lowest in yield at the Domaine for 13 years.

‘Unlike both 2011 and 2012 whose growing season began optimistically, 2013 was slow from the start with a rainy Spring and a cool, wet May. Flowering was late and both coulure (where nascent berries are aborted) and millerandage (undeveloped berries) were widespread During the summer a daily fight was waged in the Domaine’s bio-dynamic vineyards against mildew and there was finally a period of hot weather in late July and August, punctuated by hail in the Cote de Beaune.

Aubert de Villaine says:

‘2013 is forever to be ranked among the late years, compared in harvest dates to 1978 or 1979. The quality of these two wonderful vintages shows the advantages a long growing season can have when the grapes “simmer” in the soft sun and benefit from a slow ripening, which gives complexity to the wines.’

DRC 2013 vintage background

In previous harvest reports, ‘I sometimes used the words “fight” or “adversity”. No year more than 2013 deserves to be described in this manner,’ de Villaine said in a harvest report.

The domaine’s Côte de Nuits vineyards may have been fortunate to escape heavy hailstorms that decimated the crop in some parts of the Côte de Beaune, but variable weather at critical times in the growing season still created uncertainty.

Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blochet, who bought the Romanée-Conti vineyard in 1869 and is considered something of an architect of the modern-day DRC, was a reputed proponent of the late harvest and would perhaps have nodded in approval at the domaine’s decision to hang on in 2013.

In the end, grapes managed to achieve good ripeness, said de Villaine, but yields were affected. Harvesting in Vosne-Romanée took less than a week with the crop down by around 50% versus the average – a similar size to 2012.

Approximate yields – DRC 2013 vintage

Romanée Conti …………….. 18 hectolitre per hectare*
La Tâche …………………….. 19 hl/ha
Richebourg ………………….. 17 hl/ha
Romanée-Saint-Vivant ….. 18hl/ha
Grands-Echezeaux ………… 22 hl/ha
Echezeaux …………………… 16 hl/ha
Corton ……………………….. 20 hl/h
Montrachet …………………. 27 hl/ha

Data source: DRC. *One hectolitre equals 100 litres, equivalent to around 133 bottles.

For comparison, yields for DRC 2012 reds were around 20 hectolitres per hectare, compared to a more ‘normal’ 30 hectolitres per hectare in 2009. (Compiled by Chris Mercer)

DRC 2013 wines

Spurrier says: ‘To say that it is a privilege to taste these wines in early February each year is an understatement. From start to finish, the smallest tasting samples poured into large hand-blown Burgundy glasses, take one in a journey on the Domaine’s aim for perfection of expression which stays in the mind long after the aromas and flavours themselves have faded away.’