Maison Champy Romanee-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru 1999
Maison Champy is the oldest wine company in Burgundy boasting a history dating back to 1720. The winery, which has been declared a historic monument by UNESCO, was designed by the famed architect, Gustave Eiffel and sits above an ancient 15th-century Jacobian monk cellar, where the wines are aged in the heart of Beaune. It was at Maison Champy where renowned scientist, Louis Pasteur set up a laboratory and developed the pasteurization method. When Pasteur published his findings, he gave special thanks to fourth-generation Beaune wine merchant, Claude Champy. Pasteur’s laboratory equipment can still be seen today when visiting the Maison. Maison Champy owns 52 acres of vineyards, including holdings in Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Clos de Bully in Pernand-Vergelessess, and Beaune 1er Cru Aux Cras. These prized vineyards, among others owned by Champy, are farmed organically in order to showcase the true character of the terroir in the wines. The winegrowing team at Champy has worked together for many years with the goal of crafting the best possible expression of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from each unique terroir. Winemaking is led by Dimitri Bazas who, as Technical Director and Oenologist, has been custodian of the wine styles for more than 20 years. Vineyard management is under the watch of Francis Simon, also with two decades of experience with the Maison, and Cellar Master José Ramalho is Champy’s longest-tenured employee, having tended the barrel program for 35 years. Together the team brings their passion, experience, and expertise to each vintage, from vine to bottle.
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.”