‘The jewel in Burgundy’s crown.’ ‘The central pearl of her necklace’. These, and many other superlatives, have long been attributed to one of Burgundy’s brightest stars – the commune of Vosne-Romanée. Known for its world-class red wines (about 90% of all the wines grown here are from Pinot Noir grapes) it has been a hub of wine production for more than a millennium. As is often the case, its roots can be traced back to the monks of a nearby monastery – in this case, Saint Vivant. These wily men of God were amongst the first to realise the potential (and value) of the land they lived on. One of these plots of land would become very valuable indeed – a Prince named Conti gave his name to it, and Romanée-Conti has been astounding wine drinkers ever since.
From a total of around 150 hectares of land, Vosne-Romanée boasts 6 Grand Cru plots spread over around 27 hectares – not a lot in wine terms, but here it’s very much about the quality, not the quantity. The most famous (and pricey) is of course Romanée-Conti. There are also 14 superb Premier Cru plots in the appellation. And though the villages are separate, you’ll often see Vosne-Romanée alongside Flagey-Echézeaux, which itself boasts two further Grand Crus.
These wines have personality in abundance. Powerful, smooth and meaty, they have to be tried to be believed. But where to begin? Well, with Elden Selections of course. Get ready for what has been called ‘the ultimate in Pinot Noir’. The Domaine Jean Fery Vosne-Romanée ‘aux Reas’ embodies these words, exuding intense fruit flavors, harmoniously balanced in a wine that is fresh, firm and long on the finish. Next, from similar opulent terroir comes the Capitain-Gagnerot ‘Aux Raviolles’, which is the classic ‘fist in a velvet glove’ – powerful, yet still managing to be smooth and fresh. It’s an instantly recognisable wine from one of Burgundy’s most inimitable producers.
Then there is a Premier Cru Vosne-Romanée, which comes courtesy of producer Marchand-Tawse, in their ‘Les Petits Monts’. True to its name, it has a deep color, even deeper nose, and fills the mouth with concentrated and complex fruits. Not a wine to be missed off anyone’s ‘to drink’ list.
Vosne (as it was simply known until 1866 when it gained its Romanée appendix) has also seen its share of hard times. Pests, wars, occupations – but through it all, the wines endured. The abbey of Saint-Vivant endured, too – though now mostly in ruins, it is being gradually restored as part of the work of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Though the village is by nature a quiet place, it is visited by many pilgrims looking to walk upon its hallowed grounds. They are also rewarded by its diverse and charming architecture.
This small corner of Burgundy – where, according to Burgundian author Gaston Roupnel, ‘all of her charms come together’ – represents all that is good about life; great resolve through history; nature’s gifts in abundance; man’s skill and genius; and of course, fabulous wines.