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  • Country ranking ?

    251
  • Producer ranking ?

    18
  • Decanting time

    4h
  • When to drink

    2020-2035

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The Story

 “As if, in this square of earth, the gods had bequeathed us a memory of the fascinating vestige of a timeless perfection.” — Richard Olney. The wine of Prince de Conti, she is velvet, seduction and mystery. It is the most Proustian of all great wines.

 

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is without question the most famous estate in Burgundy and arguably the greatest, producing some of the best wines in the world. It is probably one of the most traditional wineries in France. Wines are produced in small quantities while the demand is huge. The domaine has 25 hectares of vineyards, all Grand Crus, including the jewel in the crown, the 1.8 hectare monopole of Romanée Conti.

Romanée-Conti, a vineyard of four and a half acres,was originally the property of the Abbey of St. Vivant. In 1760 Prince Conti acquired it against the competition of a famous collector of jewellery, Madame de Pompadour – the king’s minister against the king’s mistress. He withdrew it from the market and reserved it for his own dazzling social events. It was he who created the myth surrounding Romanée-Conti.

The price of this tiny, treasured vineyard was 80.000 livres, which in those days was worth a small kingdom. Reclaimed as property of the nation during the Revolution, the vineyard passed through the hands of several proprietors to an ancestor of the present owner for 14.000 gold pounds in 1868.

–We are the keeper of a certain philosophy of wine and, mainly, we are concerned by the perfection in details" assures Aubert de Villaine. 

 

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.

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Vintage 2019

“2019 is ‘the perfect storm’ of a vintage,” said Laurent Drouhin of top negociant house Drouhin, which owns vineyards in many parts of Burgundy. “We keep smiling because some wines will be great.” The mix included the hottest temperatures since the time of the Black Death 700 years ago (!), frost in April, rain in June, and no rain for nearly four months.

Drouhin’s harvest started on time on Sept. 13, and Laurent’s winemaking brother Frederic reports, “The first reds show an intense and beautiful color, good concentration, great balance and acidity and depth. The whites also show good richness with balance.” It’s a great year for reds, with slightly higher alcohol than usual.

The downside is very low yields. In just one April night, frost destroyed about 30% of the crop in Macon, though what’s left is making wines with good acidity and aromas.

Export company Le Serbet gathered reports from 65 producers in its portfolio, and head of marketing Peter Wasserman says the loss of grapes varies from vineyard to vineyard; in some places it may be as much as 50% to 60% lower than normal. Northern appellations such as Gevrey-Chambertin seem to have done best, down only 10%.

With less wine, you might predict even higher prices, but producers worry that this would drive away consumers.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

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Written Notes

My first impression of the 2019 Romanée-Conti Grand Cru from barrel is that I could feel the whole-bunch addition more than the La Tâche, simply indicating that it requires more time to become fully assimilated. Then the nose reveals dark berry fruit, undergrowth and hints of Earl Grey, very complex but quite enigmatic. The palate is beautifully balanced with a spicy opening; again, the stem element is a little more noticeable compared with the La Tâche. It builds wonderfully in the mouth, but as ever, it is a discreet and understated Grand Cru compared to the more exuberant La Tâche. This will be fascinating to revisit in bottle. The one cuvée that could be holding an ace up its sleeve (for now). Picked on the morning of September 17 at 22.5hl/ha. 96-98p

  • 98p
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Information

Origin

Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy

Other wines from this producer

Bâtard-Montrachet

Corton Grand Cru

Echézeaux

Grands Echézeaux

La Romanée-Conti Grand Cru

La Tâche

Les Gaudichots

Marc

Montrachet

Richebourg

Romanee Saint Vivant

Vosne Romanée

Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Cuvée Duvault Blochet

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