Domaine de la Romanée Conti
is co-owned by the de Villaine
families, the former successors to Jacques-Marie Duvault Blochet
who bought the vineyard of La Romanée Conti in 1869, the latter since acquiring the shares of other descendants of Duvault-Blochet in 1942. The Domaine is today run by Aubert de Villaine
and Henri-Frederic Roch
. Many people in Burgundy just refer to `DRC' as "the Domaine".
The domaine has 25 hectares of vineyards, all Grand Crus. As well as the the 1.8 hectare monopole La Romanée Conti,
the Domaine purchased its other monopoly, La Tâche
, in 1933, along with significant holdings in the grand crus of Richebourg
, Romanée St Vivant
and Le Montrachet
at various points in the 19th
centuries. The Domaine is the largest owners of each of the red wine grand crus.
The wines are made by Bernard Noblet
in succession to his father André Noblet
. Whole clusters are used (no destemming) with a long vatting time avoiding excesses of heat.Yields are mind numbingly low and the winemaking is traditional and perfectionist. These are not merely among the most sumptuous wines of Burgundy but certainly the most stylish. Ancestor Jacques-Marie Duvault Blochet was an advocate of harvesting late in order to ensure optimum ripeness, a philosophy to which his descendants adhere today.
La Romanée Conti
The vines, otherwise untouched since pre-phylloxera days, were replanted in 1947-48 with the first new vintage being made in 1952. The former Cros des Cloux vineyard was renamed Romanée in the 17th
century with Conti being added after it was purchased by the Price de Condé (or Conti) in 1760. He wanted the very best and kept it only for his own use and that of his immediate circle. Wine writers and critics across the centuries have singled out La Romanée Conti as Burgundy’s greatest vineyard.
The Domaine purchased most of the 6.06 hectares La Tâche in 1933, completing the vineyards by exchanging small plots in Les Gaudichots. It stretches from the top to the bottom of the mid slope band which contains the grands crus, thus covering a complexity of terroirs. It is a more flamboyant wine than Romanée Conti but needs a minimum of 10 years for all its aspects, including the tannins, to integrate.
Just under half the vineyard (3.51 hectares out of 8.03) belongs to Domaine de la Romanée Conti, spread over several plots. This is always a robust wine, deeper in colour than the Romanée St Vivant but not necessarily as elegant. The vines currently average 45 years old. About a third of the holding remained in ungrafted vines until 1946, with two cuvees being produced – a regular Richebourg and a version labelled Richebourgs Vieux Cépages. When these vines were grubbed up and replanted after the Second World War, cuttings were taken from La Romanée Conti which was also being replanted.
The Domaine’s holding covers 5.28 hectares in one single block. This formerly belonged to the Marey-Monge family but was farmed and made by the Domaine from 1966 and purchased by them in 1988. It is a beautifully refined, stylish wine, perhaps having more in common with La Romanée Conti itself than the more rugged Richebourg.
Domaine de la Romanée Conti own 3.53ha of the 9.14 hectares of Grands Echezeaux, whose soil is influenced by the downwash from Le Musigny above – the wines have a little more flesh and are more consistent year in year out than Echezeaux. The holding lies at the northern end of the cru, adjacent to Clos de Vougeot.
The Domaine’s Echezeaux is sourced mostly from Les Poulaillères, considered to be one of the best lieux-dits within the grand cru. There is very little topsoil above the hard limestone bedrock, and the grapes always ripen easily. In occasional vintages it excels several of its brethren.
The Domaine owns 0.67 hectares in three plots (purchased in 1963, ‘65 and ‘80) on the Chassagne side of the vineyard. DRC are usually the last to pick their grapes, searching for the opulence that this great vineyard should provide. The grapes here always seem to retain the necessary acidity even when picked late. On first opening the wine shows the character of this late picking, but with time in the glass or decanter the true nature of the vineyard reveals itself in spectacular manner.