Great Burgundy producer Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has released a new wine – a premier cru from grand cru vineyards.

Made from a second picking from all of the domaine’s vineyards except Romanée-Conti, the wine is labeled Vosne-Romanée Premier Cru. Although this rare red carries a village name, it comes from grand cru vineyards. By calling it premier cru the domaine declassified by a step.

Explaining that the wine was the result of a ‘magnificient’ vintage, DRC co-director Aubert de Villaine stressed it was a rarity.

‘The wine was so good we thought it would be a crime to sell it in bulk,’ de Villaine said. ‘We won’t do this every year.’

A program accompanying the 1999 DRC tasting at New York’s Carnegie Hall explained that in great vintages in the 1930s, the domaine made wines from young vines. These were marketed under a special label, Cuvée Duvault-Blochet, after the 19th-century founder of the domaine, Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blocher.

In 1999, the secondary grapes were of ‘such exceptional quality that we decided, if only for this time, to revive the tradition,’ the domaine said.

It is not clear how many cases were made, and the price has not yet been set. But Wilson Daniels of St Helena, California, the domaine’s American importer, is expected to sell the wine for less than the price of Échézeaux, the ‘least’ of the DRC vineyards.

‘It’s like a baby brother that may never be as gifted as other members of the family,’ said Joseph DeLissio, wine director of the River Cafe, a major tourist attraction under the Brooklyn Bridge. But, he added, ‘it’s better than many other people’s grand crus.’

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York31 January 2002