The 2008 Romanee-Conti offers an uncanny amalgam of viscosity and velvety texture with fresh fruit vivacity, buoyancy, and ethereal florality. “I think this is the loveliest Romanee-Conti we have made in many years,” remarks de Villaine. It is what it is, he suggests, “for me, the wine with a capital ‘W,’ whereas it’s hard to pull-out the individual parts.” Granted, but it’s my professional duty to try. Black currant and rhubarb. saline meat stock. perfume of peony, iris, and rose. myriad spices. and a crystalline sense of shimmering mineral elements such as one more usually associates with a great white wine are all part of the allure to a kaleidoscopically complex, youthfully harmonious wine that soars and floats for a finale. This will be savored – and much talked-about – for several decades.
Domaine de La Romanee-Conti director Aubert de Villaine perceives both the estate’s 2008 and 2007 collections as vins de garde, and I can’t argue with that assessment, even though when I first tasted the 2007s – soon after they had come out of malo – I harbored reservations, wondering whether to interpret de Villaine’s description of them as “ethereal” to read “ephemeral.” He says holding back the usual 5% share of production for the Domaine’s own cellar was difficult in the greatly reduced 2008 vintage, and that he is already regretting not having arranged to bottle a larger share in magnum. He still had time when I visited in April to reconsider the bottle format for three appellations, which were the only ones I was able to taste, since De Villaine is loathe to show wines in the first 9-12 months after bottling. (I’ll report on the full 2008 collection from bottle at a later date.) If the 2007s here were unusual for that vintage in the degree to which they gained stature in the course of elevage, such behavior was normal when it came to 2008, so that I was not surprised to hear de Villaine remark on a new-found degree of confidence in the stature of that collection. To an even greater degree than in most vintages, success in 2007 and 2008 came down to meticulousness at every stage. to quality of vine material. and to location, in all of which respects no estate in Burgundy has any advantage over the Domaine de La Romanee-Conti. Interestingly, the estate lingered no longer over the picking of their 2008s – from the first of the La Tache on September 27 to the last of the Echezeaux on October 6 – than they had over the 2007s, which were picked from September 1-11. The inclusion of stems was lowered to less than half in 2007, incidentally, but in 2008 was typically closer to three-quarters. Vendange entier is a technique not only time-honored and in continuous use at the Domaine de La Romanee-Conti (even when it fell out of favor at most Burgundy estates in the waning 20th century), but one which de Villaine and cellarmaster Bernard Noblet have subjected to repeated testing, so as to establish in any given vintage the right balance between 100% de-stemmed (“which lacks something by way of complexity,” says de Villaine) and 100% (“which can be too marked by the stems,” he continues). David Schildknecht, Wine Advocate # 189
The 2008 Romanee-Conti is a seamless, totally symmetrical wine. I am not sure where the RC starts and ends, it is simply an an all-encompassing wine. With time in the glass, hints of menthol and tar emerge, adding complexity to a deep core of fruit that continues to turn darker in the glass. The 2008 is an implosive, inward wine graced with breathtaking elegance and finesse. Anticipated maturity: 2028-2048. ||tasted the 2008s in bottle in late June 2011 after having gone through the 2010s from barrel. Aubert de Villaine describes 2008 as a difficult vintage with a lot of rain. Botrytis was an issue and the vineyards required constant attention. On September 14 the weather changed dramatically. A steady north wind dried out the grapes and concentrated sugars quickly, which also reduced the size of the berries. A further selection of fruit lowered yields to an even greater extent, resulting in overall production that is as much as 50% lower than normal for the Domaine. As for the wines, they are magnificent in my view, but will require considerable patience. Wine Advocate.September, 2011
This is the most backward wine in the range at present with extremely reticent aromas of a range of primarily red berry fruit, spice and floral notes plus earth and underbrush hints that complement perfectly the detailed, intense and palate etching middle weight flavors that for all the reserve of the nose, explode into a gorgeously pure and driving finish of truly stunning length. The underlying sense of proportion and perfect balance very much confers a Zen-like character to the '08 Romanée-Conti. A potentially great vintage for this most storied of wines but patience required. Allen Meadows, Burghound Jan30,2010