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Domaine De La Romanee-Conti

French Wine, Burgundy

About Domaine De La Romanee-Conti Wines

In 1232, the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne acquired 1.8 hectares of vineyard. In 1631 it was bought by the de Croonembourg family, who renamed it Romanée for reasons unknown. At the same time they acquired the adjacent vinyeard of La Tâche.

In 1760, André de Croonembourg decided to sell the domaine and it became the subject of a bidding war between Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV of France, and her bitter enemy Louis François Ier de Bourbon, prince de Conti. The prince won, paying the massive sum of 8000 livres, and the vineyard became known as Romanée-Conti. But come the Revolution, the prince's land was seized and auctioned off.

The Romanée-Conti vineyard was bought by Nicolas Defer de la Nouerre, who in 1819 sold it to Julien Ouvrard for 78,000 francs. In 1869 it was bought by Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blochet, who went on to build the domaine we know today with the acquisition of the holdings in Échezeaux, Grands Échezeaux and Richebourg.

The 9.43 hectares of Romanée Saint-Vivant were bought in 1791 by Nicolas-Joseph Marey, son-in-law of the geometrist Gaspard Monge. The Marey-Monge family sold off part of their holdings to the Latour family in 1898, leased the remaining 5.28 hectares to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in 1966, and finally sold to the domaine in 1988. This last deal was financed by the sale and leaseback of the domaine's holdings in Échezeaux and some in Grands Échezeaux.

As one of Napoleon's generals, Louis Liger-Belair was well-placed to acquire good vineyards. And from 1815 this he did - with his son Louis-Charles, he amassed 40 hectares of prime land, including all of La Tâche. By 1933 this had declined to 24 hectares and family squabbles over an inheritance led to the Liger-Belair's sale of La Tâche to the domaine. The domaine already owned 4 hectares of the adjacent Les Gaudichots vineyard from the Duvault-Blochet days, and after much legal wrangling in 1936 this and La Tâche, were combined into a single Grand cru monopole of La Tâche.

The vineyards are grouped around the village of Vosne-Romanée, on well drained slopes facing east and south-east. The soil is iron-rich limestone on a base of rock and marl, with vines lying around 800 ft above sea level. The average age of the vines is very high - around 44 years - and the vineyards are cultivated organically.

Soil supplements are limited to compost made from crushed vine roots, grape skins and residues from fermentation. To avoid compacting the soil with the use of tractors, horses were re-introduced to cultivate the vineyards of Romanée-Conti and Le Montrachet. Five hectares in La Tâche and Grands Echézeaux are now being cultivated biodynamically whereby the individual vines are treated with special natural preparations and according to a strict lunar timetable. Yields are very low at an average of 25 hl/ha (the Grand Cru rendement is 35 hl/ha). In other words, it takes the produce of three vines to produce one bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Yields are kept low through severe pruning early in the season, and green pruning (éclaircissage/vendange en vert) in July/August, with a 'passage de nettoyage' completed immediately before harvest, to cut out substandard grapes. At harvest time, the grapes are sorted into small baskets and individually examined for health on triage tables, before the winemaking begins.

Domaine De La Romanee-Conti Echezeaux 1985

Rated 92 This fabled estate has had a brilliant track record since 1978. Lalou Bize-Leroy and Aubert de Villaine seem to have everything tightly within their grasps, so it is unlikely that some of the lapses in quality control that occurred previously will resurface. I am sure they still cannot understand why their estate is so frequently singled out for malicious attacks, but no one should have any trouble appreciating the domaine's 1985s, which are their best wines in decades, even surpassing their sensational 1978s. The problem is coming up with the cash to finance them. The wines, aged in 100% new oak, are never filtered. Robert Parker

Domaine De La Romanee-Conti Grands-Echezeaux 1983

Rated 90 The Grands Echezeaux is velvety and forward, and given its quality, a good value for a Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wine. The 1983 vintage for Domaine de la Romanee-Conti was a very tough year. First there was hail, then the advent of rot in August thanks to the tropical heat and humidity. When the harvest occurred, the domaine instructed its pickers to pick the grapes, not the grape bunches, by hand and to discard all of the rotten grapes. The results are splendidly concentrated, rich wines, but wines that are extremely expensive and need at least a decade of cellaring. Robert Parker

Domaine De La Romanee Conti Grands-Echezeaux 2004

Rated 91-94 - In contrast to the expressive spiciness of the Echézeaux, this is a clear notch up in elegance and is clearly finer with a ultra high-toned floral and spice-infused nose that merges seamlessly into linear and ultra pure medium full flavors that trade more on finesse and refinement than what is usually a relatively powerful and muscular wine. This isn't a big wine but the superb detail and unmatched precision are stunning but be aware that it will be a wine for the patient as this is very understated at present and will very definitely require extended cellar time to really open up. - Burghound