When you boil it down to simplistic terms, then virtually nothing separates them. The occupy the same commune of Flagy-Echezeaux, The same viticulturalist, winemaker, facilities, everything. Admittedly between them lies the vineyards of La Grand Rue (monopole of Francois Lamarche) and La Romanee Conti, but one is La Tache, and the other is Richebourg, the domaine is Domaine de la Romanee Conti and the vintage is 88. Tasted as a pair sold to Mr B, one of our favourite regulars.
The 88 Richebourg was opened first. When I plucked them from the cellar, it was quite noticeable how thinner the bottle was compared to the more current releases. The wine itself had a tighter nose than I was expecting for the age of it, the fruit was quite shy at first, but thinking about it, it was possibly due to the temp as much as the wine, after all winter is drawing in, and the cellar temp is closer to 12degrees now. Once the fruit started showing it was restrained, under-ripe raspberries and berry fruits, with hardly any other aromas to show. On the palate it was green, very tight and mouth puckeringly sour to start with, but it soon loosened up a bit and the berry fruit flavours became a bit more defined. I was quite surprised by the tightness of the wine, after all it's nearly out of its teens, I guess I was expecting more earthy notes, leathery, tobacco etc. Considering the price (even the cost price never mind the list price!) I was expecting more wow, but what I got was probably more [meh] than anything else.
Onto bottle number two. Expectations considerably lowered by the experience of bottle number one, I was blown away by this bottle. The nose hit you the minute the cork left the bottle, ripe wild strawberries with black earth, tobacco and a touch of mushroom woodyness. Fan-bloody-tastic!!! The colour was remarkable clear, although there was a fine suspension starting to show, the rim a glorious brick red colour against a cerise core. On the palate it was elegant, soft supple tannins gliding across the flavours of strawberries and raspberry. Divine. Needless to say this bottle got served second, in order to lift the first one.
Were doing another vertical of DRC on the upcoming Burgundy dinner on the 5th December with a pair of 98's Romanee St Vivant and La Tache. I pray that the 98 La Tache is halfway as good as the 88, and the night ought to be a winner.
Speaking of winners, Im off down to London on Tuesday for the Hotel Cateys Awards dinner, where Im in the running for an award under the Food and Beverage Service Category. Im up against some good competition, so we shall have to see how I fare, but I understand that there were over a hundred nominations in that category, and I made it to the final four, so thats a massive achievement in itself.