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1999 Richebourg, Domaine Méo-Camuzet
Méo-Camuzet is one of the undisputed star estates of Burgundy. Until 1988 most of the domaine's holdings were leased out to other vignerons and amazingly most of the wine was sold off to négociants in bulk. Today, it is a very different story.
Meo Camuzet now has over 2.5 hectares of grands Crus and 8 hectares of some of the finest Premier Cru vineyards of Nuits-St-Georges and Vosne-Romanée. Most of the vineyards are farmed organically, but not every aspect of all vineyards: one or two which are difficult for tractor access may still see an occasional herbicide or anti-rot treatment.
The grapes are sorted at the winery, destemmed, cooled if need be to 15°C for a short pre-fermentation maceration, and then spend around 18 days in vat in total,, with temperatures being maintained around 30-32°C. Early on the juice is pumped over twice a day with some pumping down subsequently. Afterwards, the wines are matured in barrel, with 50% of new wood for the major villages, 60-70% for the premiers crus and 100% for the grands crus. Possibly a little less new wood may be used in the future, and Jean-Nicolas has certainly refined his choice of wood in recent years, while retaining François Frères as more or less sole supplier.
Jean-Nicolas Méo and Christian Faurois now run the Domaine and together they produce some of the very best wine in the Côte d'Or. Meo Camuzet produces full-bodied, firm, rich, oaky, concentrated wines, which no serious Burgundy drinker should overlook.
Before the current incumbent, there are two major names associated with this great Vosne-Romanée domaine. The first is Etienne Camuzet, a political figure who was deputy for the Côte d’Or from 1902 to 1932, and who purchased during his life some significant vineyard holdings as well as the Château de Clos de Vougeot, which he later gave to the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. His name frequently appears in litigation to decide which parcels of vineyard might or might not be included as part of a grand cru.
His vineyard holding passed to a daughter, Maria Noirot, who died childless, and thence in 1959 to a more distant relative, Jean Méo. At this stage the vineyards were looked after by sharecroppers and the wine sold off in bulk. Domaine-bottling only began in 1985 and reached full throttle with the arrival of Jean-Nicolas Méo to take charge in 1989. The various sharecropping agreements have now come to an end (the last being Jean Tardy in 2007) with one of the former sharecroppers, Christian Faurois, remaining as Jean-Nicolas Méo’s right-hand man in the vines.
The second great personality is of course Henri Jayer, who was invited to look after the Camuzet vines as long ago as World War II, though not having been involved in the business before. Jayer remained a sharecropper until his (first) retirement in 1988, after which he continued to advise the domaine.
Jasper Morris MW, Burgundy Wine Director and author of the award-winning Inside Burgundy comprehensive handbook.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
The small commune of Vosne-Romanée is the Côte de Nuits’ brightest star, producing the finest and most expensive Pinot Noir wines in the world.. Its wines have an extraordinary intensity of fruit which manages to combine power and finesse more magically than in any other part of the Côte d’Or. The best examples balance extraordinary depth and richness with elegance and breeding.Situated just north of Nuits-St Georges, Vosne-Romanée boasts eight Grand Cru vineyards, three of which include the suffix Romanée, to which the village of Vosne appended its name in 1866. The famous La Romanée vineyard was formerly known as Le Cloux but was renamed in 1651, presumably after the Roman remains found nearby. In 1760 the property was bought by Prince de Conti, and subsequently became known as Romanée-Conti.
Vosne is the home of the phenomenally fine wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti; divine wines that are, as they say, not for everyone but for those who can afford them. The region also boasts some of the world’s most talented, quality-conscious and pioneering producers: Domaine de la Romanée-Conti of course, but also Henri Jayer, Lalou Bize-Leroy, René Engel, as well as the Grivot and Gros families, to name but a few.
Vosne-Romanée has the greatest concentration of top vineyards in the Côte d’Or, including the tiny Grand Crus of the astonishing La Romanée-Conti (a monopoly of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti producing about 600 cases a year), the classy, complex La Romanée (a monopoly of Vicomte Liger-Belair, but until 2002 bottled under Bouchard Père et Fils, producing a minuscule 300 cases or so a year) and the little-known La Grande Rue. As the name suggests, this runs up the side of the road out of Vosne. Originally a Premier Cru, it was rightly upgraded in 1992, although its rich, spicy, floral Pinots are yet to reach their real potential under Domaine Lamarche who hold it as a monopoly.
By convention the wines of neighbouring Flagey-Echézeaux are considered part of Vosne-Romanée. These include the large, very variable 30-hectare Echézeaux (divided between 84 different growers) and the more consistent, silky, intense, violet-scented Grands Echézeaux Grands Crus.
La Tâche is another monopoly of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. It is explosively seductive with a peerless finesse, and is almost as good as their legendary eponymous wine. Richebourg is one of Burgundy’s most voluptuous wines and is capable of challenging La Tâche in some years, while Romanée-St Vivant, which takes its name from the monastery of St Vivant built around 900AD in Vergy, has a lovely silky finesse but is slightly less powerful.
If that wasn’t enough, Vosne-Romanée also boasts some absolutely magnificent Premiers Crus headed by Clos des Réas, Les Malconsorts (just south of La Tâche, and arguably of Grand Cru quality) and Les Chaumes on the Nuits-St Georges side, Cros Parantoux (made famous by Henri Jayer), Les Beaux Monts and Les Suchots on the Flagey-Echézeaux border. The old maxim that ‘there are no common wines in Vosne-Romanée’ may not be strictly true, but it is not far off.
Drinking dates vary, but as a general rule of thumb Grand Crus are best drunk from at least 10 to 25 years, while Premier Crus can be enjoyed from 8 to 20 years, and village wines from 5 to 12 years.
There are no white wines produced in Vosne-Romanée.
- 99 hectares of village Vosne-Romanée.
- 56 hectares of Premier Cru vineyards (14 in all). Foremost vineyards include Les Gaudichots, Les Malconsorts, Cros Parentoux, Les Suchots, Les Beauxmonts, En Orveaux and Les Reignots.
- 75 hectares of Grand Cru vineyards: Romanée-Conti, La Romanée, La Tache, Richebourg, Romanée St Vivant, La Grande Rue, Grands Echézeaux, Echézeaux.
- Recommended producers: Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Leroy, Cathiard, Engel, Rouget, Grivot, Liger Belair.