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Vosne-Romanee

Arguably the most famous, and best commune in all of Burgundy, Vosne-Romanee contains several of the most revered wine names to be found anywhere in the world.  Six grands crus lie within Vosne proper, and another two (Echezeaux and Grands Echezeaux) are usually also included, the commune of Flagey-Echezeaux virtually all-but-forgotten to all but the textbooks.   Amongst these vineyards are the greatest expressions of Pinot Noir made anywhere on earth.  Whilst Gevrey-Chambertin may boast more, and all grands crus have something of note about them, it is indisputable that Vosne-Romanee is the heartland for Pinot Noir.la-tache-to-vosne.jpg

All up, these eight grands crus total about 75 hectares.  At the pinnacle is Romanee-Conti itself, at less than two hectares and owned entirely by the eponymously named Domaine de la Romanee-Conti (DRC).  The world's most expensive wine, a mere 500 cases or less are produced annually.  DRC also enjoy the privilege of owning another monopole, La Tache, which is larger at six hectares and produces around 1,400 dozen bottles each year.  Incredibly, DRC also owns about half each of Richebourg and Romanee St.-Vivant, as well as sizeable portions of Grands Echezeaux and Echezeaux.

The only other two grands crus in Vosne-Romanee are also monopoles, La Romanee (which at 0.85 hectare is the smallest appellation controllee in all France) is owned entirely by Comte Liger-Belair, whilst La Grand Rue, which is double that size, is owned by Francois Lamarche.  

Even amongst the premiers crus there are some famous and revered names, not to mention great wines.  The likes of Cros Parantoux, Malconsorts and Gaudichots are seldom seen but much admired, and Beaumonts (aka Beaux Monts), Suchots and Brulees are capable of grand cru quality wines in the right vintages and makers.

Like most great vineyards, there can be considerable variation within an appellation, and Echezeaux suffers from this nearly as much as Clos Vougeot, with resultant wines ranging from extraordinary to merely ordinary.  It is worth noting that several of the vineyards have had their boundaries altered over time.  La Grand Rue itself was only promoted from premier to grand cru about 20 yeras ago.  La Tache was substantially enlarged in the mid 1930s by absorbing a large portion of Les Gaudichots, whilst Richebourg nearly doubled at the same time by incorporating Les Verroilles.  By all accounts, quality did not suffer in any way with either addition.

romanee-conti-sign-4.jpgLa Grand Rue is an interesting case, nestled between La Tache and Romanee-Conti and sharing the same soils and climate.  When finally promoted to grand cru status in 1992, few would argue that the wine itself each year was ordinary at best, and often poor.  Yet upon being promoted to grand cru in spite of the poor state of winemaking the INAO (French bureaucracy governing all things vinous) clearly stated the importance of the land, or site, over ownership or winemaking.  

Vosne-Romanee is truly the heart of great Pinot Noir, and leaving aside the trivial issue of pricing, if one cannot find Pinot Noir to get excited about here, one doesn't really like Pinot Noir.

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