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The 2017 Richebourg Grand Cru is a Burgundy of Cistercian austerity. Searing tannins give the Richebourg its trademark sense of energy and vibrancy. White pepper, mint, dried flowers and bright red berry fruit are all beautifully delineated, with underlying beams of minerality and salinity that lend dimension. Richebourg is very rarely finessed, but is more typically a wine of brawn and pure power, as it is here. A range of bright, floral/savory accents suggest a bit more elegance may lie ahead. We will see. My colleagues appreciate the Richebourg more than I do. Harvest began the afternoon of September 8, after Romanée-Conti. Rain on the 9th caused a break in picking for the day. The last of the Richebourg came in on the 10th. ~95 AG
The 2017 Richebourg Grand Cru offers up generous aromas of ripe strawberries, raspberries, cinnamon and coniferous forest floor, framed by a lavish application of creamy new oak that's less immediately integrated than in the Domaine's other wines at this early stage. On the palate, the Richebourg is full-bodied, rich and multidimensional, with a lavishly enveloping attack and supple structuring tannins that are almost entirely concealed by its deep core of fruit. Long and sapid, this is a spectacular wine in the making.
The Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's 2017s are showing brilliantly from bottle, and this tasting with Bertrand de Villaine was one of the absolute high points of my two months of visits along the Côte d'Or. While barrel tasting is informative, there is no substitute for tasting finished wines in bottle—especially at an estate such as the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, where élevage is quite long and the wines are allowed to take their time—and spending an hour or two with full glasses of wines such as these is not merely of immense professional interest but, I admit, a source of great personal pleasure. Bertrand de Villaine observed that the development of the 2017s in barrel and in bottle has been "reassuring," as the wines have gained in depth and profundity despite a vintage that marks the domaine's most generous yield since 2009—despite the domaine's spring debudding, its low-yielding vine selections and the high average age of its vines. Revisited in bottle, the wines show even better than they did from barrel, and it is clear that this is a vintage that will give immense pleasure to anyone able to secure a few bottles. Hauntingly aromatic, structurally supple and pungently intense, this vintage will drink well younger than both its 2016 and 2015 predecessors, but it is much closer in quality to those two vintages than I perceived 12 months ago. At the end of our tasting, the group spent some time discussing possible analogies, and the comparison I found the most compelling is with the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's 1985 vintage. Indeed, I had drunk a superb 1985 Grands-Echézeaux from the domaine over dinner with a good friend a few days before my visit, and the similarities in overall balance between the two vintages were strikingly apparent as I tasted through the young 2017s. The domaine's 2017 Montrachet also merits special comment, as it is a magical wine built for the ages. ~95WA
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