Few appellations in France can compete with the reputation of Vosne-Romanée. Its wines—particularly the Grand Crus—are the stuff of legends and the stars of countless auctions. Today, I’d like to take some time to explore this celebrated appellation, and to look specifically at how its unique composition and classification scheme make it not only one of the best sites for Grand Cru Burgundy, but one of the finest caches of Premier Cru vineyards as well.
The village of Vosne-Romanée has been making quality wines for over a thousand years. Pinot Noir vines were first planted near the village (then called Vaona) in the fifteenth century by the monks of Saint-Vivant; however, it wasn’t until the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that the commune gained its reputation. It was then that the famed prince of Conti arrived and purchased the area’s Grand Cru parcel of vineyards now known as Romanée-Conti. Word spread of the quality of the prince’s wine (reserved for his extravagant private parties), and in 1866, Emperor Napoleon III allowed the recently renamed comune of Vosne to add the name of the celebrated Grand Cru vineyard to its title. Thus, Vosne-Romanée was born.
Modern Vosne-Romanée is a relatively small appellation comprised of about 160 hectares of vineyards (not including Flagey-Echézeaux). Its finest terroir is located just above the village on a gently sloping hill of chalky marl clay with excellent drainage. Its 6 Grand Cru vineyards total up to a mere 28 hectares, with the rest of its excellent terroir designated as Premier Cru or village (the difference between a Grand Cru vine and a simple village vine can sometimes be a matter of inches). These non Grand-Cru vineyards often exceed their classification. In the words of Jasper Morris MW, “…among the premiers crus there are more candidates for promotion than demotion, and the village wines are usually sound and sometimes distinguished. No other appellation in Burgundy can combine the intensity of flavor with the refinement that typifies the fine wines of Vosne-Romanée” (Inside Burgundy).
Below, you’ll find further information on three Vosne-Romanée Premiers Crus that span the range of what the appellation has to offer, as well as links to wines from these sites that are available in our upcoming A Celebration of Burgundy auction. View a complete list of all Premier Cru and village Vosne-Romanée wines available in our auction here.
At 13.08ha, Suchots is the largest Premier Cru within Vosne-Romanée. The climat abuts Richebourg and Romanée-St.-Vivant with Echézeaux just to the North—one of only a handful of interruptions in the near continuous stretch of Grand Cru vineyards between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin. Similar to Echézeaux in terroir, Suchots benefits from a combination of warm morning sun and cool winds, while its sloped, lime-stone-rich soil allows for good drainage. The resulting wines feature a beautiful balance of richness and acidity.
Malconsorts consists of 5.86ha located on the top of the hill above Vosne-Romanée. Often called the most underrated Vosne Premier Cru, Malconsorts shares a border with La Tâche, and its terroir is very similar to that of the famed Grand Cru. Its southern position and exposure make its wines the most powerful and enduring of all of the Vosne-Romanée Premiers Crus. It is a favorite Premier Cru among many wine critics and connoisseurs.
Cros Parantoux is one of the most sought-after vineyards in Burgundy thanks largely to the work of Henri Jayer. A tiny 1.01ha of land that sits just atop Richebourg, this climat consists of shallow, rocky soil on an incline. The rocks in its soil made it so difficult to work with that winemakers abandoned it for nearly a century following the phylloxera crisis. In fact, when Henri Jayer replanted it following the Second World War, he had to use explosives to blast holes for replacement vines. His efforts, however, paid off—the rocky soil leads to wines of strikingly beautiful minerality with fantastic aging potential.