The 1996 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru was picked on September 30 at 28hl/ha. It is a wine that I have not tasted since it was first bottled. It blew me away back then. Now? It has a deep core with a tawny rim. The bouquet is haunting with dark fruit, brine and oyster shell, discrete aromas of truffle percolating through with time. This is amazingly well focused. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, more dark fruit than red, perhaps more masculine with a strong marine/estuarine influence. For the first 20 minutes this is vying for one of the best vintages and yet in the glass it does not seem to "kick on" like the 1999 or 2005. It just feels a little static, akin to reading a page-turning novel that is missing the final chapter. 6,101 bottles produced. Tasted at the Romanée-Conti dinner at the Connaught Hotel.
Anticipated maturity: 2019-2055
Robert Parker 100
A limpid, ruby/crimson core. The nose soars from the glass: violets, cassis and blueberry. Incredible definition and vigor with perceptively more upfront, vanillary oak than the 1995. As usual the palate is complex, laced with cherry, red with layers of dark fruits. Perfectly balanced and symmetrical with a minerally finish. Amazing. Tasted February 1999.