According to many this is THE village on the Côte d'Or. Gevrey-Chambertin may have more grand crus, but Vosne-Romanée can produce names such as Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, Richebourg, La Romanée, La Grande Rue and Romanée-Saint-Vivant. Flagey-Echézeaux to the east has an interesting relationship with its neighbour. Its two grand crus – Echézeaux and Grands-Echézeaux – lie directly to the north of Vosne-Romanée's two premier crus Les Suchots and Les Beaux Monts. Part of Les Beaux Monts belongs to Flagey-Echézeaux and to complicate things further all premier cru and village wine in Flagey-Echézeaux is sold as Vosne-Romanée.
There is a relaxed atmosphere in Vosne-Romanée. Considering the fame of its prestigious vineyards there are few signs of this being pinot noir-heaven on earth. Down by the RN74 there are a few domaines offering direct sales and on the main square by the church and the post office there is a small wine shop and an information table showing where to find all the grand crus. Apart from that there is not much aimed at the tourists. Nevertheless it is a charming village and if you take Rue du Temps Perdu up behind the church you will soon be in grand cru heaven.
Once you have turned the corner up on Rue du Temps Perdu you have Romanée-Saint-Vivant to your right. A little further on this grand cru of 9.44 ha expands to both sides of the road. Just before this you will pass the backyard of one of the houses where they have a small plot for growing vegetables. I must admit that I have always been curious to know what they might taste like. I mean, with Romanée-Saint-Vivant only a few metres away we are talking grand cru carrots here.
When the road comes to an end you will have Richebourg on your right and Romanée-Conti on your left. Some years ago I had the pleasure of becoming the witness to what must have been an old man's dream coming true. When approaching the Romanée-Conti we saw a small group of people. All, except for one man, looked terribly bored. This man was in his 90's, video camera at hand, and was for once moving around the place with a lot more ease than his considerably younger friends and relatives. It was like seeing a ten year old boy in a candy store, only this was a 90 year old man videotaping the Romanée-Conti.
Romanée-Conti is often referred to as the world's most expensive wine. When a new vintage appears on the market the price is usually 1000–1400 Euros per bottle. This tiny appellation of 1.81 ha produces around 450 cases a year. It only measures 150 metres by 150 metres.
Up behind Romanée-Conti you will find the even smaller appellation of La Romanée. It is not even half the size of its neighbour to the east. With 0.85 ha in size it is the smallest appellation in the whole of France.
Up behind Romanée-Conti you will find the even smaller appellation of La Romanée. It is not even half the size of its neighbour to the east. With 0.85 ha in size it is the smallest appellation in the whole of France. While Romanée-Conti is the monopole of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Romanée is solely owned by Domaine du Vicomte Liger-Belair. For a long time the wine was made by négociants, first by Bichot then for almost thirty years by Bouchard Père & Fils, then in 2002 the vines reverted back to the Liger-Belair family.
South of Romanée-Conti and La Romanée you will find another two monopoles – La Grande Rue and La Tâche. The latter is owned by Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and La Grande Rue is owned by Domaine François Lamarche. It was not until 1989 (the decree was passed in 1992) that La Grande Rue was granted grand cru status. When the vineyards were classified in the 1930's Henri Lamarche, François' father, found it difficult to see what he had to gain from grand cru status, except for higher taxes, and therefore never applied for a promotion of his monopole. At the time the difference in price between a premier and a grand cru was more or less negligible.
And if the Vosne-Romanée wines are not enough for you there are some truffles as well. Domaine Armelle et Bernard Rion down by the RN74 not only offers a range of wines, from Bourgogne Aligoté up to Clos de Vougeot, but also truffles. Contact them in advance if you would like to pay them a visit.
Vosne-Romanée is also the home of two of my personal favourites – Domaine Anne Gros and Domaine Robert Arnoux. Both offer top notch grand crus, but they also maintain the high quality all the way down to the basic Bourgogne rouge. Anne Gros makes a lovely Hautes-Côtes de Nuits blanc, Cuvée Marine, and Pascal Lachaux at Domaine Robert Arnoux makes a simply wonderful Vosne-Romanée, Les Suchots.
© 2013 Ola Bergman