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Domaine de la Romanee-Conti 2018 Gala

February 9, 2018

One of the most eagerly anticipated wine events each year in Singapore, limited only to those who are entitled to attend, is the L’Abbaye de Saint-Vivant Gala Dinner that features the wines of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. This year, the gala was held on 31 January 2018 at its usual venue, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore, where it was very good, once again, to be able to catch up with the co-owner of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti M. Aubert de Villaine himself as well as Jean-Charles Cuvelier, who has just retired as general manager after spending 24 years at the domaine. The main hall of the hotel, once known as Clifford Pier where passengers of a bygone era travelling by boat would embark or disembark, was transformed into a scene of great elegance as guests in black tie, accompanied by their ladies in daring high fashion, arrived punctually in spite of the preceding torrential downpour.

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While this event was hosted by FICOFI, one of the main objectives of this Gala was to raise funds for the conservation of the L’Abbaye de Saint-Vivant, once a monastery where the monks acquired and tended to vines that are actually now the various plots of grand cru in Vosne-Romanee owned by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. Hence, the domaine confers upon itself the moral obligation to preserve an important part of its history.

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The funds were to be raised through the auction of several parcels of D.R.C. wines, the prime lot being a trio of 2006 / 2010 / 2011 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru which eventually went under the hammer for EUR 90,000. The line-up of wines for the evening was pretty impressive as well, with the 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru being the absolute highlight, perhaps even stealing the shine (literally!) from the rare super blue moon eclipse phenomenon that took place that same night. If I’d heard Aubert correctly, it seemed the domaine no longer has any stock of the 1990 Romanee-Conti, the bottles supplied this evening coming exclusively from FICOFI’s library. Wow…that’s truly generous, at current market prices. We began with a promenade of wines from Domaine Leflaive and Domaine Marquis D’Angerville before settling down for dinner (prepared by 3-Michelin star chef Christian Le Squer of Le Cinq, Four Seasons, Paris, who had specially flown in) where the reds were exclusively D.R.C., peppered by several rounds of ban bourguignon led by Jean-Charles Cuvelier.

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2013 Vin de l’Abbaye de Saint-Vivant Hautes-Cotes de Nuits Bourgogne. Nutty characters on the nose. Tight with good concentration on the palate with a clean feel amidst dry light textures, showing some early complexity but its depth and layering is most impressive, exuding notes of exotic tropical fruit and early cinnamon with a touch of bitter lemon, turning more intense and focused with a distilled essence over time. Better than the 2010 and 2011, in my opinion. Excellent. This is one of only three whites produced by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, bottled specially and only for FICOFI, certainly not available commercially.

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2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er. Good gentle complexity with a hint of malt on the nose that led to notes of aged creme and recessed chalk underscored by a lively citrus trail, dry but well structured, naturally balanced and seamless, finishing with some unresolved potential, suggesting that this wine still has some way to go before peaking. Very fine.

2001 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Les Pulcelles 1er. Displaying a darker hue with an enticing glow of recessed creme de la creme and chalky tones, this wine is layered with great minerality and superb concentration with fabulous intensity of fruit, yet remarkably deft and delicate, well-structured, very correct in its expression of this most characteristic terroir of all premier cru climats of Puligny-Montrachet, finishing with wonderful length amidst minty overtones. Truly superb.

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2001 Domaine Leflaive Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru. Displaying a darker hue as well, this wine exudes an expansive chalky sheen with great subtlety across the palate where layers of complex fruit and crystalline minerals tease the senses with sharp fleeting intensity, like a beautiful woman who knows what she’s got but offering only a peak-a-boo. Yet to peak. Excellent.

2009 Domaine Marquis D’Angerville Volnay Taillepieds 1er, poured from magnum. Good colour, exuding a delicious bouquet of dark cherries, red fruits and perfumed rose petals. Medium-full, displaying lovely depth, concentration and intensity of ripe berries with understated earthiness. Fleshy and supple, highly elegant in its delivery of power. Excellent.

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Yours truly with M. Guillaume d’Angerville

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2010 Domaine Marquis D’Angerville Volnay Taillepieds 1er, poured from magnum. Lifted complex aromas of red fruits, raspberries and dark cherries, very lovely with great subtlety, leading to a delicious palate that displayed great definition, focus and balance, laced with sublime acidity with an understated presence that added to its natural balance. Supremely elegant and refined. Outstanding.

2004 Domaine Marquis D’Angerville Volnay Taillepieds 1er, poured from magnum. More complex and developed on the nose with aromas of feminine fragrance, dark roses and camphor with a mild herbal tone, weighty but gently layered, quite excellent in acidity and intensity of fruit though its heavier darker tone may not suit everyone’s idea of Volnay.

2009 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux Grand Cru. There is some early evolution of colour here with enticing aromas of ripe raspberries, cherries and dark roses amidst tobacco snuff and a hint of ember. Openly expansive, showing superb concentration and intensity of fruit with seamless integration of rich earthy minerals and sublime acidity, culminating in a superb lengthy glow. Highly successful.

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2009 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru. Showing some evolution of colour, this wine exudes a mild earthy pungency amidst overtones of ripe dark fruit. Open, fleshy and seamlessly layered, rather subtle in nuances. Somewhat reserved and controlled at this stage. Best to lay down.

1992 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru monopole, poured from methuselah. Clearly evolved but still showing good colour with a core of sexy tangerines amidst ripe raspberries, dark cherries, wild berries and dark currants that led to a highly detailed palate etched with very fine tannins, swathed in superb concentration and intensity of fruit, highly sensuous and exuberant with plenty of verve, becoming utterly seamless by the end of dinner. Far better than a recent tasting, also from methuselah poured at the 2017 Le Palais des Grands Crus in Paris, and still has the legs to carry on for many more years. Outstanding.

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1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti Grand Cru monopole. Tasted with palpable anticipation, this wine surprised many with its Zen-like absolute refinement and sophistication. Opening with a deep gentle glow of complex fruits and tertiary nuances recalling aged raspberries and dark cherries with a distinct orangey core of citrus, it is still displaying excellent concentration and layering of fruit with fine detail and depth, utterly elegant and seamless with plenty of finesse, reserving its best for the finish as plush velvety textures offered a bed of exciting sexy tannins amidst understated acidity. I must say this 1990 Romanee-Conti has been caught right at its absolute peak and will hold for many more years. Thoroughly outstanding!

We concluded with a 2005 Ch d’Yquem. Ubiquitous at FICOFI functions of late, this Sauternes displays superb depth of rich luscious creme de la crème, icing and nectarine with overtones of burnt honey and toast, seemingly developing at a glacial pace, still yet to evolve, drawing the evening to a reluctant close. This has truly been quite an evening of excesses. Thank you, FICOFI, for the immaculate organisation.

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Aubert enjoys the occasional selfie

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