Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee St. Vivant Grand Cru 2009
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This bottle of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti's 2009 Romanée-St-Vivant Grand Cru was quite reserved, opening in the glass with notes of raspberries and cherries complemented by hints of rose petal, cinnamon and coniferous forest floor. Medium to full-bodied and fleshy but a little introverted, it's girdled by juicy acids and underpinned by powdery tannins, concluding with a long and fragrant finish. Compared to the sheer expressiveness of the 2009 La Tâche, this was surprisingly introverted, though of course that may well have been simply the particular bottle or the day on which I encountered it.
Considered the pinnacle of Burgundy, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti produces some of the world’s most revered wines from its tiny vineyards in Vosne-Romanee. Two of the Domaine's seven Grand Cru vineyards - La Romanée-Conti and La Tache - are monopoles (appellations entirely owned by the Domaine) and unarguably the greatest vineyards in Burgundy. Richebourg, Romanee-St.-Vivant, Grands-Echezeaux, Echezeaux, and Montrachet (in Chassagne) are also Grand Cru vineyards, yielding sublime wines that are among the most highly-sought, seductive and rarest in the world.
This is the village for the most die-hard Burgundy fanatics. Vosne-Romanée has for many hundreds of years been the source of the most sought-after Pinot Noir in Burgundy. The village claims six Grands Crus—and some of the most famous at that—but in other villages where owners manage tiny parcels or a few rows of any one vineyard, monopolies dominate the Grands Crus of Vosne-Romanee.
Of these monopolies, Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC) reigns supreme, claiming not only more total vineyard area than any other producer, but outright owning the entirety of two of the Grands Crus and a majority of two others. In its full possession are naturally Romanée-Conti, as well as La Tâche. DRC also owns most of Richebourg and Romanée-St-Vivant. The final two, La Grande Rue and La Romanée are completely owned by other other produers: François Lamarche and Comte Liger Belair, respectively.
While one could spend a lifetime on the puzzles of land ownership in Burgundy, the point is that Vosne-Romanee contains the most valuable pieces of vineyard real estate in the world. Pinot Noir from any of its vineyards—especially from within its 27ha of Grand Cru or 58 ha of Premier Cru land—is going to rank among the best.
The most outstanding wines from this village have everything: finesse and elegance coupled with the body and sturdiness for incredibly long aging ability. They are intensely floral and exotically spiced. Beautifully ripe, complex and ephemeral throughout, they are robust, yet fine-grained in texture. These wines will stay gorgeous for the long haul.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”