Wine connoisseurs sing hymns about it, it arouses extraordinary desires among collectors and many wine lover with a rather narrow wallet dreams in vain of being allowed to taste just a sip of this elixir. Romanée-Conti Grand Cru is not only considered the most famous, desired and expensive, but also the finest and most distinguished Pinot Noir red wine in the world. It is said to have been praised and revered even by Louis IV and the Parisian haute volee of the 18th century. What is it about this wine that aristocrats, monarchs and oligarchs dream of, that the wealthy of this world chase after like a noble treasure?
Romanée-Conti comes - how else could it be - from noble Burgundy. Its grapes grow on the French Côte dʼOr, more precisely on the Côte de Nuits, one of the most prestigious wine-growing regions in the world. Here, in the north of the Côte dʼOr, ripen the grapes that give the internationally renowned red Burgundies their unique character traits.
From among them, the Romanée-Conti stands out as a true rarity. Its Pinot Noir vines are farmed biodynamically in the best location (classified Grand Cru, of course) on just 1.8 hectares under the expert hands of the winemakers of what is undoubtedly one of the best wineries in the world. Domaine Romanée-Conti, located at No. 1 Place de l’Eglise in the small wine-growing community of Vosne-Romanée, owns several Grand Cru sites in the Côte d’Or. A total of about 28 hectares of vines (including over 27 hectares of Pinot Noir and less than one hectare of Chardonnay) produce wines with such great names as Echézeaux, Richebourg, Montrachet, as well as La Tâche and Romanée-Conti, the only two monopoly medleys solely owned by the Domaine. The 1.8 hectares of Romanée-Conti produce only a few thousand bottles of Pinot Noir per year - another good reason why people around the globe are clamoring for this wine.
Desired for its rarity: only a few thousand bottles per year
Romanée-Conti is an ancient and for centuries highly appreciated vineyard. Even in the late 16th century - then called “Le Cros des Cloux” - it was separated from the other Romanée vineyards because of its special quality class. In the 18th century the vineyard, which by then had been renamed “La Romanée”, became the property of Louis-François de Bourbon, Prince de Conti, for an exorbitant sum and received its name, which is still valid today. With the death of the owner and the expropriation of his descendants in the course of the French Revolution, the vineyard luckily continued to be worked in such a way as to preserve the great quality of its growths. After several changes of ownership over the past two centuries, the Domaine is now under the management of the aristocrats Aubert de Villaine and Henri-Frédéric Roch.
Nobility obliges: perhaps the most noble wine in the world is not something you can “just buy”. Instead, this Pinot Noir chooses its owners - or more precisely: selected customers receive the distinction of being able to purchase, own, and even drink it. Romanée-Conti cannot be found in regular wine shops, nor can it be tasted in the winery itself and taken home. Actually, there is only one general importer per country, through which one can purchase the cherished bottles. Another source are owners of first-class private cellars who are willing to sell one or another bottle to a dealer they trust.
To own this wine is a distinction
With such coveted goods, it is of no surprise that counterfeiters also like to play their evil game with the big name. If you’re not careful, you could have the misfortune of buying a real bottle with an impressive label for a lot of money, which is sacrilegiously filled with cheap Burgundy. Only dealers who can prove that they have checked the bottle with the utmost care for authenticity and origin and can show the original proof of purchase are trustworthy.
The Romanée-Conti is therefore a true luxury product - and as such is irresistible not only to true wine passionates, but also to all those for whom the size of the wallet does not necessarily go hand in hand with the delicacy of the palate. In other words, wealthy show-offs, label drinkers and, of course, speculators like to brag that they got hold of a bottle of this great Pinot Noir. Especially the latter are a thorn in the side of the fine Domaine head Aubert de Villaine - because as lucrative as the business with the Romanée-Conti is, money is less important to the gentlemen of the Domaine than the question of whether the buyers really appreciate the greatness of this Grand Cru.
We do, of course - and that is more than appropriate for this perfect Pinot Noir, whose great vintages with velvety body, complex flavor diversity and clear, unfussy character deserve tumultuous applause and the greatest respect. There is “no purer expression of Pinot Noir than him,” Aubert de Villain says of his Romanée-Conti. And one of our colleagues, wine expert Hans-Jürgen Teßnow, even lets himself be carried away to a lyrical eulogy after a tasting: “If there are vineyards in heaven they are certainly Pinot Noir vines from the Romanée-Conti site.”