2016 La Grande Rue, Grand Cru, Domaine François Lamarche, Burgundy
Neal Martin - 29/12/2017
About this WINE
The domaine makes 14 different wines across 11 hectares, including the monopole of the Grand Cru La Grande Rue. Nicole Lamarche took over from her father, François, in 2006; from ’19, the domaine now carries her name.
Nicole’s style is one of a light touch; the wines aren’t deeply coloured and are sensually soft yet show wonderful intensity.
In the vineyard
Under her aegis, the vineyards have been converted to organic and biodynamic production, although certification isn’t sought. The vines are now trained higher, and leaf cover is retained. In the cellar, the barrel regime has been changed, both in the lower proportion of new oak used each year, and in the coopers that supply the barrels
In the winery
When asked for details of the winemaking process, Nicole remains steadfastly enigmatic: there’s no formula and every cuvée receives a customised élevage. However, there’s always a proportion of whole bunch on the top wines, usually around 30%.
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.
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.
Add to wishlist
The long thin strip of La Grande Rue, the Lamarche monopole, is the ham in the sandwich between Romanée-Conti and La Tâche. There was no frost here at all. The impression now is of something meatier, stronger, richer, but also layered and detailed. In the final analysis, ineffable. A worthy conclusion to a beguiling flight of wines. Drink 2025-2040.
Adam Bruntlett, Wine Buyer
Domaine Lamarche today produces 14 different wines from 11 hectares. Ancestors of the Lamarche family were already living in the village of Vosne-Romanée in 1740, though the domaine was really established in the early 20th century. Henri Lamarche, born in 1903, received La Grande Rue in 1933 as a wedding present. Henri was succeeded by his son François and now his granddaughters; Nicole in charge of winemaking and Nathalie on the marketing side. As well as more meticulous work in the vineyards, better barrel selection and a new cuverie (since 2000) have combined to make this a fine and consistent domaine. This was a vintage to truly deliver Nicole Lamarche’s ambitions. Already on a road to make the most delicate, ineffable expressions of Pinot Noir – organic, unfined and unfiltered – this year the quality and health of the fruit has allowed her to eschew new oak as well. There is a policy to use 30 percent whole-bunch throughout the range. For Nicole this is a spiritual vintage, the quintessence of Pinot Noir, whose core she has tried to express through the extraordinary collection of terroirs she has under her, and her cousin Nathalie’s, stewardship. But, tragically, frost has reduced the domaine’s total yield by half and their Les Suchots was practically wiped out with an 80 percent loss.
wine at a glance
Delivery and quality guarantee