Richebourg is a king of a wine: the colonnade of the Louvre, the Château of Versailles. You are impressed by its finesse, its length and its delicate sensations, endlessly changing. The fact that no element dominates the others enables you to appreciate all of its aromas, on the nose and on the palate. In any given vintage, Richebourg is always one of the last wines to be drunk. Not because it is too aggressive when young; simply because it needs time to reveal its full complexity.
Romanée-Conti lies on brown limestone soils 60 cm deep with a major clay component. Romanée-Saint-Vivant has similar but deeper (90 cm) soils. Higher up, La Romanée occupies a markedly sloping site (12%) and the soil texture is less clayey. La Tâche and La Grande Rue share brown limestone soils, rather shallow at the top end with deeper rendzinas lower down. The same is true for the Richebourg, depending on slope and aspect. The underlying rock is hard Premeaux limestone dating from the Jurassic (175 million years BC).
Lying between Flagey-Échezeaux (home of the ÉCHEZEAUX appellation) and Nuits-Saint-Georges, Vosne-Romanée occupies a middle position in the Côte de Nuits. The vines grow at altitudes of 250 to 310 metres and face east or, in some cases, slightly south of east. Vosne-Romanée, the central jewel in the necklace of appellations which is the burgundian côte, is not content with holding a mere four aces but boasts a total of six Grands Crus, each one famous the world over. A thousand years ago, it was the Cluniac monks of Saint-Vivant de Vergy and the Cistercians of Cîteaux who first realised the value of these very special plots of land.
One of these vineyards takes its name from Prince Conti who lost his heart to it in 1760. Romanée-Conti is one of the wonders ofthe world and has always been a singly-held entity. Next door to it, Romanée-Saint-Vivant recalls the medieval monastery of the Hautes-Côtes which is currently undergoing restoration and which is linked to it by its own path. La Romanée, La Tâche and La Grande Rue are also singly-held entities, as is Richebourg, whose mere name is enough to fill a glass.
These Grands Crus frequently give good results from long laying-down. As a general rule, they shouldn't be drunk under about ten years of age but sometimes they will be aged up to 20 or 30 years. Each appellation has its own distinct personality depending on its year of production and on the stage it has reached in its development. These flamboyant red wines fully express the subtlety and complexity of the Burgundian Pinot Noir grape. Their colour is a dark ruby turning crimson with age. Their wide-ranging bouquet is divided among small red and black fruits, violet, spices and, with time, underbrush. On the palate, this wine is well-defined with a powerful body. It is delicate, sensual, frank and full.
In addition to their powerful structure and exceptional longevity, these great wines develop tertiary aromas of truffle, underbrush, leather and fur. It goes without saying that strong-flavoured meats will do them justice : furred or feathered game, braised, in sauce, or simply grilled. Wild-fowl (eg Peking duck) or a nice cut of roast veal will be gently enveloped by the close-packed but elegant tannins of these mighty Pinot Noir wines.
Serving temperatures : 15 to 16 °C.
The 2007 harvest is finished. The weather is fine with a wind blowing from the North, which both delights the vigneron and makes him regret that these ideal conditions did not arrive a little earlier! But we have to adapt to the will of the climate and we perfectly know that it is in this difficult context of Burgundy with its tortuous weather, softened by exceptionally micro-climatic conditions, especially at the end of the season, that the Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay grapes can reach the fine maturity that will lead them to their best expression. Even to us, vignerons, this incredible "gift" sometimes seems near-miraculous. We could witness it once again with this vintage that will remain as one of the most outstanding of these last years.
The beginning of the growing season was exceptional.
The bud burst and the bunch setting were extremely early thanks to a summer-like April resulting in a significant advance of the vegetation. Moreover, the famous Palm wind, that blows on Palm Sunday and announces the dominant wind of the year, blew from the North presaging a dry year.
We have then the feeling that the same type of vintage as 2003 was taking shape with harvest starting in mid-August. At the time of the flowering, very early also (around May 20th) the vigneron was rather happy and had all the reasons to hope for a great vintage with an average crop reduced by millerandage. Unfortunately, the flowering spread out over three weeks and had the effect of creating differences in ripeness between the vineyards, between the vines and often between the berries of the same bunch of grapes. As a consequence, we already knew that we would have to do a very selective sorting at the harvest.
These differences in ripeness could also be observed in the vines. The Chardonnay was ten days late compared with Pinot Noir, which is totally unusual. At the time of the "véraison" and of course at the harvest, there was a difference of more than a week. After harvesting the Pinot Noir, we had to wait as long to harvest the Chardonnay.
For once, the Palm wind, as mentioned above, lied and the opposite to what we were expecting happened: from May, the dominant winds blew from the West and the South and the season was often damp with a succession of heat, storms, cold, humidity, all these factors being the friends of our worst enemies: mildew, oïdium and botrytis. Fortunately, thanks to the uninterrupted attention of Nicolas Jacob, our vineyard manager, and his team, we managed to fight them while keeping exclusively to our organic methods.
Under such difficult conditions, as days went by, a good part of the early advance of the vegetative cycle was lost, even if, at this stage, we still thought that the harvest would start around August 20th.
Yet, the first part of August turned out to be one of the rainiest in recent years giving one more challenge to the vigneron: botrytis. Luckily, as it was cold, it did not develop as much as we feared and around August 20th, as often in Burgundy, a miraculous change in the weather pattern occurred: sunny days returned in force and set in until the end of September.
This dry fine weather accompanied by the North wind first stopped the attacks of botrytis and dried affected berries. One can say that in this occasion botrytis resulted into a sort of natural "éclaircissage" (thinning) and then accelerated in a totally outstanding manner the ripening of the grapes. Thanks to the reserves of water retained in the soil all through the year, the photosynthesis functioned at full blast and the production of sugar increased very fast. The grapes gained 1° to 1.5° of alcohol per week and acidities remained quite high.
By early September, full maturity was reached in our old vineyards. The harvest began on September 1st and lasted until the 11th for the red wines. Our harvesting team performed once again the "haute-couture" work that we required from them in order to eliminate the botrytis and to sort out the grapes that were bigger or not fully ripe.
As a result of our fine low yielding vines (Pinot fin) in our old vineyards, of millerandage and of severe selection in order to eliminate the dry botrytis and to leave aside the grapes that had not fully ripened, the yields are low and the crop is rather small (22ha to 28ha depending on the "cru").
Fermentations proceeded well under the close watch of Bernard Noblet.
Devatting has just finished. It is too early to give a definitive opinion about wines just released from the "suffering" of fermentation.
The wines are dark red. On the nose, they are very classic. The palate is firm and full. We will have to wait for the malolactic fermentations, that we of course do not want to hasten, before we can have a more precise idea of the characteristics of this vintage.
The fate of the Montrachet vineyards was totally different from that of our Pinots in Vosne-Romanée. As much as our Pinots in full maturity suffered from the eight storms of August and were severely bitten by botrytis, the Chardonnays, thanks to their difference at the "véraison", overcame this obstacle without being hit by botrytis. It was then essential to wait.
The grapes ripened slowly and full maturity was not reached until mid-September. We were the last to harvest golden and ultra ripe grapes on September 17th. There was quantity as well.
To conclude, we were close to defeat because of a stormy August, but the efforts that vignerons put in controlling the yields in a natural way as well, of course, as the meticulous sorting, permitted to take advantage of these 5 weeks of fine weather between August 20th and the end of September and even later.