Just as this year’s Echezeaux challenges the quality of the Grands-Echezeaux, another surprise of the vintage is a spectacular showing for the 2005 Romanee-St.-Vivant. A startlingly dark, mouth-watering amalgam of purple plum paste, blackberry preserves, bitter chocolate, toasted walnut, soy, and raw beef intrigues the nose. On the palate, this cleaves to the dark side, with viscous, mouth-coating concentration of lightly-cooked black fruits, charred meat, mysterious forest floor complexity, and bitter-sweet florality, but simultaneously delivers a vibratory finish like that of the energetic Grands-Echezeaux. With its palpable extract, profound personality, and refined but abundant tannins, this is surely wine to set aside for at least a decade. Once the grapes in these fabled vineyards had reached a potential alcohol of 13%, reports Aubert de Villaine, he was ready to pick, because conditions had seldom been so conducive to perfect ripeness (including that of the stems). It was all done in a week, commencing with La Tache and Romanee Conti, and finishing on September 23 with Romanee-St.-Vivant (and Montrachet, on which I shall report at a future date). De Villaine intended to bottle in March or April by gravity in six-barrel lots, as has become general practice here over the past decade.