La Grande Rue
La Grande Rue is a monopole Grand Cru in Vosne-Romanée. Often overlooked in favor of more famous wines in the limelight like La Romanée, La Romanée-Conti, and La Tâche, it nevertheless makes wine of an extremely high quality, that has only improved since the wine's elevation from Premier Cru in the 1980s. And due to its underrated status, this wine often offers much lower prices than neighboring Grands Crus.
Owned by Domaine Francois Lamarche, which has a number of other small Premier Cru holdings (no monopoles) in Vosne-Romanée, La Grande Rue is about 4.1 acres, only slightly larger than Romanée-Conti. Slightly less than 600 cases a year, translating to around 7,000 bottles, make it into the Grand Cru wine here. As a result, La Grande Rue is just as exclusive, in terms of production, as Romanée-Conti, but for whatever reason it has never equalled that vineyard in fame or pedigree.
Many of Vosne-Romanée's biggest hounds believe that La Grande Rue is undeserving of the Grand Cru title, but this is largely untrue. Since the early 1990s, this vineyard has hugely improved its reputation and it now makes wine just as good as many Richebourgs. The wine style is elegant and smooth, with flavors of red fruit that evoke without replicating the neighboring La Tâche.
And for those who can get past its late promotion, La Grande Rue may well be the best priced Grand Cru wine in all of Vosne-Romanée (although in comparison with other villages' Grands Crus, it still seems overpriced). When you take into account the very high pedigree of recent years, it's not too surprising that this is recognized as one of the top vineyards of Burgundy, with a style all its own.
Nobody is really sure why La Grande Rue was never classified as a Grand Cru. But when Vosne's other Grands Crus were recognized in the late 1930s as the AOC system went into effect, La Grande Rue remained a very high-level Premier Cru. When owner Francois Lamarche took over he decided to apply for Grand Cru status, as the pedigree of the wines had improved in recent years, and the regulatory board accepted his application in 1989.
Old bottles of La Grande Rue were repackaged as La Grande Rue Grand Cru, as promotion is retroactive, and a huge price hike occurred at that time as well. It was an odd development, as most of the Grands Crus had already applied decades ago, but was quickly accepted when the wines were shown to be excellent expressions of their own Vosne terroir.
Climate and Viticulture
Surrounded by Grand Cru vineyards, La Grande Rue's soil makes the claims of its detractors seem largely unfounded. Although flatter than sloping La Tâche to the north, and perhaps also on a less interesting altitude than the perfectly sloped Romanée-Conti to its northeast, the vineyard certainly has that magical Vosne-Romanée soil that can convey the vineyard's terroir clearly to those who understand the wines. Deep reserves of clay and limestone make for wine of power but great elegance, and perfect weather keeps the body of the wine neither overly light and lean, nor heavy and fat.
- Pinot Noir: Details about the 100% Pinot Noir cuvée here are found in the Major Producers section.
- Domaine Francois Lamarche: Francois Lamarche, a domaine that has major operations in Vosne-Romanée, offers their grandest cuvée in the small parcel of land lying between the more famous Grands Crus of the village. Called La Grande Rue, this wine is an outstanding style that competes very well with the other Grands Crus of the Côte de Nuits, if not as well with the best of Vosne's other Grands Crus. Elegant and aromatically styled, the wine brilliantly expresses a completely different style from the masculine, firmly tannic Romanée-Conti lying just across the road, and is an undoubted example of Vosne-Romanée's great terroir differences. Red fruits such as raspberry and cherry dominate in terms of flavor, but there are supplementary elements of flowers and coffee to give the wine complexity. Classically dry but extremely ripe, this wine derives most of its power from its thick, concentrated flavors and its firm mineral undertones. Just for its breadth this is a Grand Cru wine, but its weightlessness brings it to the level of a truly great one. With its lack of firmness or heaviness this wine could be drunk upon release, but it has the concentration for many years of evolution, probably up to 25. As for prices, they vary widely between merchants, but at many reasonably priced shops they could be as low as $200 for off vintages and $400 for top years such as 2005. Already aged bottles will cost more, of course, but unlike several other Grands Crus, they are largely unnecessary since new vintages can be drunk young.
Like most monopole Grands Crus, there is only one "Grand Vin" cuvée produced here, so label confusion is impossible. The exact label has a yellow background, a distinct red seal, and in fancy old-fashioned lettering, "La Grande Rue, Grand Cru Monopole, Appellation Controlee, Domaine Francois Lamarche."