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40 years of Échezéaux tasting – Robersons Wine Merchants, Kensington

Following on from the Legends of Southern France Tasting – for anyone who gets excited by Grand Cru red Burgundy, this was a tasting that was always going to be special, even without the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti finale.

As with all good tastings, there was plenty of room for debate – and a stellar line-up of wines awaited veteran critics including Jancis Robinson MW and Michael Broadbent.

Tasting notes by John Abbott

Flight 1

Échezéaux; Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot 2004

Surprisingly intense colour, the darkest of the flight. A sense of rich fruit and wild scented flowers, slightly masked by an over-riding earthy film. Tannins are a little rugged, but the characterful dryness of the finish is endearing.

Échezéaux; Domaine Robert Arnoux 2002

An immediate impression of noticeable oak, but integration is sensitive. A real savoury feel to it, fruit is well defined, if a little thin – perhaps not performing as it might, but still an overall aura of quality.

Échezéaux; Domaine Réné Engel 2002

Strong dark cherries and wild redcurrants – this has a really hypnotic perfume to it. The fruit is very bright and vivid, with admirable complexity and nuance. The tannins are soft and sweet, with an honest, rustic charm.

Flight 2

Échezéaux; Faiveley 2000

Mouthwatering fruit – smooth, rich cherry and juicy blackberry. Fine, but food friendly, tannins. Bright complexity on the nose, though woody and a touch austere on the palate. Balance is a little precarious – Broadbent observes its ‘hot finish’.

Échezéaux; Domaine Francois Lamarche 2000

A sense of the earth – herby and medicinal, with a smoky bacon fat-esque scent. [I’m struggling a bit with this – there’s talk of bottle variation – I hope it’s true.] Lamentably subdued and closed. It’s certainly stands out, but not particularly favorably.

Échezéaux; Domaine Jean Grivot 2000

A lightly charred, toasty, coffee-led nose. Underlying classic red and black fruit mixed in with a homely sense of new oak. It’s showing so well – depth, character and concentration. A real unique style but highly desirable.

Flight 3

Échezéaux; Domaine Emmanuel Rouget 1997

An immediate sense of life and vitality – colour is intense. Slight browning to edge defies the violet and berry perfume – so opulent and expressive. It’s got silky raspberry fruit, round and soft but concentrated and focused. Tannins are smooth and enjoyable.

Échezéaux; Domaine Henri Jayer 1997

Malt and leather and with bitter espresso highlights. Ever so slightly meaty, the texture on this is fantastic – a wonderful secondary complexity. There is fruit if you search, but why bother? Age has thus far been very kind – stunning.

Flight 4

Échezéaux; Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1979

Thick (from prevalent sediment, rather than glycerol viscosity) and brown. Huge nose of coffee beans and chocolate – an amazing opulence. Soft, elegant and smooth, with pure red fruit…still. Vanilla overtone is faint but adds depth. Two words – sweetness and life – sum this up. Absolutely captivating – I really could sit and smell this all evening.

Échezéaux; Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1969

Lighter than ’79 and more classic and straight-laced. Still that wonderful concentration, but fruit (yes, still there) seems much more developed, almost erring on ‘old’. The texture is exceptional, layered with complexity backed up by a finish that doesn’t know when to stop. Seems less top-heavy than the ’79 – fine balance is commendable. Excellent -as inspiring a wine as the fabled label that promotes it.

Written by John Abbott

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