Romanee Conti 1990
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Domaine de la Romanee-Conti
Cote de Nuits, Grand Cru
Bottle #'s 6634, 6636, 6638, 1 slight sign of seepage, 1 slightly scuffed and slightly stained label
A very great wine, the epitome of that Romanee-Conti silkiness. The full aristocratic dimension of the wine is in full flower here, packed with concentration and fruit to the maximum degree. Serena Sutcliffe, M.W.
Lot 6015 3 bts (cn)
per lot: HKD 260000-380000
per lot: USD 32500-47500
1.80 ha (4.32 acres), average production: 450 cases, average age of vines: 52 years
In 1760, the Prince de Conti bought the lower part of La Romanee, and a myth was born. The de Villaine and Leroy families acquired Romanee-Conti in 1850 and they still own and run the Domaine jointly. It is interesting that in 1850 Romanee-Conti was estate bottled - then this ceased for a period and restarted in 1911. Thus, the essence of Romanee-Conti was captured but, in my view, never tamed! It is a wild, extraordinary wine, unpredictable and constantly mutating as it matures, but always true to its indubitably great self.
The care lavished on Romanee-Conti is shown to all the wines of the Domaine, but the breed and refinement in the taste of Romanee-Conti would point to an indefinable "something extra" in this 1.80 ha plot. Tradition is respected (Romanee-Conti is always vinified in wooden vat number 17 which dates from 1862), but not blindly revered for its own sake. Short pruning, organic fertilizer, low yields, high average age of vines, late picking, selection of grapes, long fermentation with natural yeasts, 70-100% vin de presse added to give quality tannins and good acidity, new Troncais oak barrels from wood the Domaine dries itself, almost no racking (and then only by gravity), fining with 3-4 egg whites per cask only in some years according to the character of the vintage, no filtration - all this is taken for granted. But Romanee-Conti is more than the total of a mass of intricate manoeuvres - it is the pure silk and intoxicating aromas and flavours that appear, as if by magic, from mere marl and limestone. Serena Sutcliffe, M.W.
The Domaine, as it is known, is iconic. Much more important, it also produces the most extraordinary wines in Burgundy - and it has been doing so for a long time. The generations responsible for the Domaine change, but the terroir remains. And these are very special vineyard parcels indeed, married to meticulous care and philosophy leading to low yields and healthy, ripe grapes, at whatever cost. From the 1990s, vineyard policy has been organic, with co-owner Aubert de Villaine monitoring everything with his usual attention to detail. Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wines evolve and develop dimensions in a way that resembles a mosaic - points of bouquet and flavour making up a harmonious whole that becomes more beautiful as it unfolds in the glass. Yes, these are hedonistic wines and yes, they are not like any other. The trick is in capturing what these remarkable plots of vines can give and letting them express themselves through minimum intervention and enlightened nurturing. Serena Sutcliffe, M.W.