Recently I had the opportunity to taste through the 2006 portfolio at a tasting held for select members of the wine media and trade in New York City. The event celebrated the release of the 2006s and was hosted by the always distinguished Aubert de Villaine, who guided us through the tasting as skillfully as he navigates through any given vintage. This was my most detailed snapshot into this ‘shadow’ year, lost in the shuffle of 2005, but a vintage that has already endeared itself to many Burgundian connoisseurs. One collector recently told me 2006 will be like 1993, where everyone overlooks it for awhile and then all of a sudden, ten years later, everyone will want it. Based on this tasting, I couldn’t disagree with that prognostication.
First, a few notes paraphrased from about the 2006 vintage”¦
Climactic conditions in 2006 were a bit wild and initially a source of anguish for many, but at the end of the season, optimism and confidence were restored. A long and unusual heat wave in July blocked the vegetative cycle of the vine, and an exceptionally cool and rainy August resulted in conditions favorable to botrytis, unseen since 1986. However, September brought hot weather, with barely any rain (only on the 23rd and 24th), and these perfect conditions allowed the vines to efficiently use the reserves of the rains of August in the soil. Ultimately, the grapes were as ripe as in 2005 at the time of harvest, at least for . While 2006 was difficult, it ultimately gave winemakers the tools to make great wines, provided that they harvested before botrytis set in too deeply. Low yields were also important to permit the grapes to achieve an early maturity for the same reason. Sorting was also crucial due to botrytis. The Richebourg was the first vineyard to be harvested on September 20th; Echezeaux was the last to be completed on the 27th. “If one can speak of a striking general character for this vintage, it is, indeed, purity: purity of aromas, purity of taste, purity of general expression, which is completely different from that of 2005, (which was) a rather bright, spectacular, symphonic vintage. In 2006 we hear chamber music with more discreet notes, but subtle and complex.”
Let the 2006 Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault Blochet begin. Purity did, indeed, jump out first. Cinnamon and spice were next, followed by taut black cherry, forest floor and a healthy whiff of healthy wood, cedar and mahogany to be exact. A hint of green olives rounded out the nose. The palate was round with gamy flavors, clean and silky overall. Flavors of stem, cinnamon, earth went with the cherry and rose. In retrospect, the Vosne Romanee was light, but light on its feet and dancing in the mouth (90).
The 2006 Echezeaux had a deeper, blacker nose with more crushed mint and rubber tire there. Cedar slowly slithered out, blending in with the rubber along with some matchbox, lit match, lavender and a purplish, floral complexity. The palate was rounder and lusher than the Vosne, and just delicious, with flavors of beet root, rhubarb, cherry, spice, cedar, mahogany and grilled meat. For sheer sex appeal, the Echezeaux was excellent (93).
The nose on the 2006 Grands Echezeaux continued the progression nicely with an even deeper personality. It was more coiled and wound, with more structure showing, along with lots of cedar and spice. It had bigger and exotic tendencies, almost peach or mango but not quite either, maybe apricot? It was flirting in those directions, and also had big-time rose and oil there. It was rusty in its vigor, but not much bigger than the Echezeaux as I expected. It was upfront but lacked the open quality of the Ech, but made up for it with its structure. That rubber tire emerged on its gritty finish with lots of earth, beef and cedar flavors. Overall, it had a much blacker style than the Ech and although not as delicious and sexy as the Ech, it had better long-term potential (93).
The 2006 Romanee St. Vivant had a bright nose and lots of cloves to go with its cinnamon, along with nutmeg; it was a veritable spice cabinet. There was high pitch to its spice, and a little baked Grandma goodness. The palate was the roundest and most balanced; in fact, the balance was exquisite, yet there was still stuffing. There was a leathery finish with a peacock’s tail, very coating. There were pure red fruits and a sturdy finish, and it stayed agile in the glass (94).
The 2006 Richebourg was stinkier than anything so far, with a bit of animal, wet hay and grass here. It was wild yet fleshy, full of character, the wine that wanted to stay up all night. Musk and a pungent goodness were present along with black fruits. The palate was cleaner and lighter than I expected, frankly a bit disappointing after the RSV, and a rare time when the RSV outshined its bigger brother. The palate was a bit watery upfront, still with nice, rosy flavors. There were some classic stems and cedar, and it did gain a bit in the glass, fattening and fleshing out (93).
Ahhhh, the 2006 La Tache. Here kitty, kitty. Life is too short not to drink La Tache”¦often. The 2006 was phenomenal. The breed and structure were a most noticeable step up. It was wound, giving me a medical emergency impression with its clean minerality and intensity. Some band-aids joined the party to patch things up, along with a little bread, rose, vitamins and bull’s blood. The concentration on the palate shattered everything prior and made me feel I should lower every other wine’s score by a point! It was so flavorful, full of great fruit and all the colors, also with incredible stems and vitamins. There was serious length to this ‘serious shit,’ which was denser and bigger and more brooding than anything else (96).
The 2006 Romanee Conti was neither last nor least. It was much more sensual and elegant than the LT in the nose, with more subtlety and complexity, though. It was more toasty, with aromas of cinnamon, baked bread, stemmy goodness, black cherry and also a glazed goodness. The palate had incredible spice and foresty fun; it hit the highest note on the piano. There was a divine delicacy to the RC, its palate endless like a ballerina who never leaves its toes. Aubert noted the ‘justability’ of the RC versus the ‘masculinity’ of the RC (95).
The 2006 Montrachet was one white that could follow up any flight of reds. That hint of botrytis that the growers had to deal with in 2006 was more evident in the Montrachet. The nose was sweet, aromatic and tropical as only the seems to be as far as white Burgs go. Aromas of candy cane and a minty sweet core were self-evident, but there were also great structure components to complement its sweetness. The palate was rich, buttery and lush, with butter dominating and tropical sweetness coming in second. Guava and mineral flavors rounded out this outstanding white (95).
So there you have it, 2006, admittedly looking down from 20,000 feet, but I am convinced this will be a true connoisseur’s vintage for many years to come, and one to have in the cellar for the most passionate of Burgundy lovers. What was interesting about the s was the fact that it was an underdog year; Ech outshowing the GE, RSV over Richebourg, and LT out-muscling the RC, at least at this stage. Go Knicks 🙂
In Vino Veritas,