CLIVE COATES MW reveals the secrets of the Burgandy winemakers of Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy's holy of holies and home to the grandest of grands crus, Domaine Robert Arnoux
Since son-in-law Pascal Lachaux took over from his late father-in-law some 10 years ago this domaine has hardly put a foot wrong. Always full, rich and masculine, the wines are now in addition succulent and elegant; Pascal lachaux is one of the fine Burgandy winemakers.
Fine Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Clos de Vougeot and Echézeaux, possibly the best Vosne-Romanée Suchots of all (very old vines at the top of the climat), Vosne-Romanée Les Chaumes, Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Corvées-Pagets and Les Procès.
Domaine René Engel
Philippe Engel, grandson of the eponymous René, produces some of the best and most consistent wines in the village. His is probably the best Brûlée, and there are in addition both the Echézeaux and a fine Clos de Vougeot. These are wines of great purity, elegance and intensity. He is a master winemaker.
Domaine Jean Grivot
Etienne, the 40-something son of Jean, has been in charge here for nearly 20 years now. There are no fewer than eight Vosne-Romanées, including six premiers crus, three Nuits-Saint-Georges premiers crus, Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeot and Richebourg. These are immaculately made wines, quite austere to begin with, but with real depth and class.
Domaine Anne Gros
The smallest but the best of the various Gros domaines. Anne had a new cellar constructed last year, and now needs to acquire more land to fill it. Meanwhile, while she cannot offer any premier cru, she produces a Clos de Vougeot and a Richebourg which are two of the finest examples in all Burgundy.
Perhaps the greatest domaine in Burgundy, and with prices to match.
The 22.4 hectares offer nine grands crus and eight premiers crus though some in minuscule quantities. Yields are pitiful, rarely above 15 hl/ha, the wines are old, and the vineyard tended biodynamically. These are magnificently concentrated, long-lasting wines of magisterial character and profundity. Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy’s private estate, Auvenay, offers small quantities of equally distinguished wines.
A fine domaine, one which until 1988 was farmed out to others, including the famous Henri Jayer, and sold most of its produce in bulk. Today the 15ha estate produces three Vosne-Romanée premier crus, including Cros-Parentoux, of which they are the majority proprietor, two Nuits-Saint-Georges premiers crus, Corton, Clos de Vougeot and Richebourg. Full, firm, oaky, concentrated wines.
Domaine Dr Georges Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg
The nine hectares of this splendid estate are largely farmed out on a share-cropping basis (some to cousin Gérard Mugneret, who produces very good wine) or tended à la tâche (paid by the job, not the hour). The three charming Mugneret ladies, Dr Georges’ widow and their two daughters, produce exemplary examples, with, yes, a feminine touch, from two premiers crus in Nuits-Saint-Georges, one (Feusselottes) in Chambolle-Musigny, Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeot and Ruchottes-Chambertin.
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
The most famous name in Burgundy, and together with Domaine Leroy, the best. The 25ha consist entirely of grands crus, the monopolies of Romanée-Conti and La Tâche, the lion’s share of Richebourg, Romanée-Saint-Vivant and the largest chunks of Grands-Echézeaux and Echézeaux. Oh, and there is also some Montrachet. Yields are low, the wine-making is ultra-perfectionistic and the results are magical. The Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has probably more great burgundies than all the rest of the domaines put together.
Other good Vosne-Romanée domaines include: Sylvain Cathiard, Bruno Clavelier, Jacky Confuron-Cotétidot, Forey Père & Fils, Michel Gros, Gérard Mugneret, Emmanuel Rouget. Also notable in the village are: Jean-Yves Bizot, Patrice Cacheux-Sirugue, Domaine du Clos Frantin, François Gerbet, Gros Frère & Soeur, Alfred Haegelyn-Jayer, François Lamarche, Manière-Noirot, Mongeard-Mugneret, Denis & Dominique Mugneret, Michel Noëllat, Pernin-Rossin, Armelle & Bernard Rion, Robert Sirugue,
Jean Tardy, Fabrice Vigot.Some good growers from outside the village have property here. These include: Domaine de l’Arlot (Nuits-Saint-Georges, Prémeaux), JJ Confuron (Nuits-Saint-Georges, Prémeaux),
AF Gros (Pommard), (Alain Hudelot-Noëllat (Vougeot), Jean-Marc Millet (Comblanchien), (Daniel Rion & Fils (Nuits-Saint-Georges, Prémeaux).