Emmanuel Rouget Vosne-Romanee Les Beaumonts (stained labels) 2001
The history of Domaine Emmanuel Rouget is forever tied to the famous vigneron Henri Jayer, Emmanuel’s uncle. By the early 1980s, Henri had already become one of the most legendary winemakers in Burgundy, influencing a generation of young vignerons in Burgundy and around the world. Henri began to think about the future of his domaine and though he had two daughters, neither of them were interested in making wine. In 1985, he took on his nephew Emmanuel Rouget as his protege and began leasing some of his vines to him. Over the years, Jayer gave up more and more vines to his nephew. In 2001, following his retirement, all of the his vines went under the control of Emmanuel Rouget, including the Georges Jayer vines, which have been vinified in the cellar of Rouget since 2002. Since 2011, the control of the domaine has passed to Emmanuel’s two sons Nicolas and Guillaume. Nicolas keeps watch over the vineyards while Guillaume is principally in the winery.
Without question, the story of the domaine cannot be told without mentioning its’ most famous vineyard, Cros Parantoux. The history of the Cros Parantoux vineyard begins with Henri Jayer. The vineyard itself, which sits just above the Grand Cru of Richebourg, had fallen into disrepair in the years between the first and second world war. By the 1940s, it was nothing more than forgotten brush land. Jayer acquired his first parcel of Cros Parantoux in 1951 and in the first few years, he had to use more than 400 charges of dynamite to soften up the soil so it could be planted. The first planting was done in 1953 and he aquired his last parcel in 1970 which brought his total holding to .72 hectares. Today, those same .72 hectares belong to Emmanuel Rouget with the remaining .28 hectarres of the vineyard belonging to Meo-Camuzet.
Not much has changed here since Emmanuel first began making wines under the watchful eye of his uncle. The vines are still farmed with a respect for nature, that is to say no pesticides or herbicides at all, and organic treatments are used almost exclusively. The grapes are destemmed just as Jayer did, and the wines are fermented in concrete vats before ageing in barrel. Chez Rouget, the ageing is often a full 20 months or more before bottling.
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.”