Thursday, 3 March 2011

No spitting in Tower Hamlets

By Matthew Hemming, Fine Wine Manager

I rounded off a freezing cold week in January with an indulgent trip to Corney & Barrow's London offices, where I found perhaps the least used spitoons in the world for that one morning.  The occasion was the annual trade/press presentation of the latest vintage release from Domaine de la Romanee Conti - perhaps the greatest wine estate in the world.

The tasting was conducted in a hushed but relaxed atmosphere and it was really nice to be able to take my glass off to a corner and work quietly at my own pace. With each wine, after an initial swirl I was careful to put it aside, and leave it for a while to unfurl in the glass. Not a luxury you often find at these events.

Echezeaux 2008 Domaine de la Romanee Conti
Immediately very scented and pure with complex floral and musk aromas. Very pretty wine without the darker and more rustic liquorice element I often find in Echezeaux. The oak is very much in a supporting / framing role. Silky and suave palate texture. The acidity is bright but not at all strict, as '08 can be. A seductive and elegant wine that's fine-textured and even delicate on the finish. 17.5

Grands Echezeaux '08 DRC
Greater intensity and aromatic breadth than the opening wine. The nose is very expressive after some time - incense, spice, dark-toned fruit with some smoke and toasty oak. An extremely sleek palate entry is followed by almost penetrating intensity of flavour. Somehow sappy and mouthwatering without being noticeably acidic. The finish is rich and heady with an almost saline mineral cut. I was pretty much floored by this. 18.5

Richebourg '08 DRC
Very flamboyant, forward aromatics. Seems to emphasise the rich, dark fruit elements rather than the spice and scent of the Ech and GE. Aromas are heady and complex. Sweet and full on the palate, flashy almost. Has a fine, silken tannic structure but not quite the tension and multi-layered complexity of the GE. There's some serious grip on the finish and the finish is extrmely long, promising great potential and suggesting I'm under-estimating it. 18

Romanee St Vivant '08 DRC
Extremely shy and reticent at first. With time and elusive perfume develops - complex and floral. There's great precision and detail here. Beautiful, soaring aromatics emerge on the mid-palate. It's lithe and really fine-spun yet with a riveting tension to it. Rich spice and incense notes dominate the finish. This is stunning. 18.5

La Tache '08 DRC
I think I missed something here. I had the last of a bottle, which was barely a lip-wetting quantity, then another bottle was produced. My first thought was that it was pretty reductive. I'm sure I just caught it in a bad spot and look forward to seeing what others thought... Dark and stern on the nose. Closed and extremely hard to read - the most brooding wine of the morning. On the palate the tannin is firm yet velvet textured. There's some ripe, cherry fruit and clear intensity but it's not giving much up. Aristocratic and pretty austere this morning...?18-?

Romanee Conti '08 DRC
Infinitely more open and generous on the nose. Rich, ripe and layered with exotic spice, musk and the merest whiff of toasty oak. Intriguing reductive / mineral notes too. Has a fabulous cashmere texture to the tannins, it's fine boned and intense yet light on its feet. It's very complex and continues to evolve in the glass and on the mid palate, not wanting to be pinned down. This defines 'light and shade' and is classy in the extreme. 18.5+

So there we have it. I was super impressed by the GE and RSV.  Should remember, of course, that all this is massively academic as these wines are so far from the realms of the attainable that scores, preferences, etc are almost meaningless. Just pulling the cork on these is special, regardless. Nevertheless, another great showing for 2008s.

Averys do receive a tiny alloaction of DRC in most years.  Whilst we can't pretend that the wines aren't already massively over-subscribed and first offered to those who have bought in previous years, if you'd like to be considered for an allocation please drop us a line.

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