Decanter's content director, John Stimpfig, was fortunate enough to be invited to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's annual in-bottle tasting, hosted by the Burgundy estate's exclusive UK agent, Corney & Barrow.
Aubert de Villaine, co-director of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC), is not entirely sure whether the 2015 vintage was his 49th or 50th at the fabled estate, but he’s perfectly clear on his view of the 2015 vintage, which is latest to be bottled.
‘Unfortunately, I can’t recall exactly when I started work at the domaine – whether it was 1965 or 1966. But what I am sure of is that the 2015 vintage is the most remarkable of my career. It was such an incredible year and the vineyards were so beautiful from start to finish.’
Scroll down for John’s 2015 DRC tasting notes and scores – available exclusively to Decanter Premium members
The Burgundy 2015 vintage, awarded 5/5 for Côte d’Or reds by our experts, was marked by a hot, dry summer which gave generous fruit and ripe tannins, cooling off just before harvest to preserve good levels of juicy acidity which underpin many of the wines.
Every wine in DRC’s line up in 2015, apart from the Corton, underwent 100% whole bunch fermentation. ‘Although we’ve done it before, in 2005 and 2009, it is a bit unusual as you need particular vintage conditions: no millerandage, good ripeness and phenolic maturity,’ said de Villaine.
Terroir vs vintage
It has been suggested that terroir characteristics may be overcome by the power and personality of 2015, but de Villaine disagreed.
‘The higher you go [in the range], the more you see the differences in terroir. With the Corton and the Echézeaux, those differences are already apparent, and it becomes even more pronounced with the Grands-Echézeaux, Romanée-St-Vivant, Richebourg, La Tâche and Romanee-Conti.’
This was certainly an easy vintage to taste – the wines are already showing very well, and it wouldn’t be a crime to open the likes of the Corton and Echézeaux sooner rather than later, not unlike the 1969s which I remember drinking when they were very young because they were so precociously good.
De Villaine is about to bottle the 2016s, which raises the question of how they will compare to the ’15s. Some vignerons in Burgundy have stated that they prefer their ’16s, but he remains closely-guarded.
‘We are bottling our ’16s in one month and they too are genuinely wonderful, in a more delicate style. I can understand why some people prefer the vintage.’
He compares the power of 2015 to that of 1961, and the underdog status of 2016 to 1962.
However, it is clear that the 2017 vintage, winemaker Bernard Noblet’s last at DRC as recently reported, is not expected to be at the same level as its two predecessors, with even less wine to offer.
Romanée-Conti 2015 in bottle: