La Romanée, the vineyard for which Vosne eventually was named, actually has the honor of being the smallest appellation in Burgundy. At only 2.1 acres, it is small by any vineyard's standards, and actually qualifies as both the smallest Grand Cru in Burgundy (smaller even than Romanée-Conti) and the smallest appellation in France!
Not surprisingly due to its size, La Romanée is a monopole, having been for many years the source of the flagship wine of Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair. Starting in 2002 the domaine started selling the wine itself, whereas beforehand it had been labeled Bouchard Pere et Fils. Considering the vineyard's size, only about half that of the #1 most expensive Burgundy wine, Romanée-Conti, it's no real surprise that La Romanée's price is $1,000 or more in most vintages. To its fans, who are many, this price is worthwhile, as it shows a side of Vosne-Romanée and indeed Burgundy itself that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
The grand cuvée here is produced annually in a sum of only about 300 cases. Château Pétrus makes 2,500 cases of their grand vin. Considering that Pétrus is one of the most exclusive wines in the world, we can now understand the great expense of La Romanée. The reason for such low production is that only the grapes from the absolute best soil make it into the final product. In such a small vineyard, the absolute best soil is not much at all!
La Romanée's history is perhaps not as exciting as the other Vosne vineyards. In fact, it is somewhat overshadowed by Romanée-Conti itself with its eventful trades, sales, and split-ups, the land eventually becoming the property of the domaine that would become legendary.
La Romanée is not quite as interesting. For an extremely long time, presumably since its inception as a Grand Cru in 1936, it has been a monopole. The most interesting recent development was when Comte Liger-Belair decided to start making and labeling its own wines, which until then had been vinified and labeled by Bouchard Pere et Fils as a négociant service. Until 2006 wine of both labels was produced, which led to great confusion among consumers.
Climate and Viticulture
Due to the vineyard's small size, the climate is admirably consistent, making for wine of undeniable purity and harmony. This is single vineyard at its most sublime and exclusive--at its best, to put it another way. Situated right to the west of the great Romanée-Conti itself, the vineyard is a bit below Richebourg on the hill that houses all the great Vosne-Romanée vineyards. The vineyard itself isn't quite as sloped as Richebourg, but still has a good angle that certainly plays a part in imparting character to the wine.
Like all great vineyards, though, it's the soil that separates good from great. A remarkable combination of deep reserves of dark clay, interspersed with pure bits of limestone, the soil is something that could never be found in the USA, New Zealand, or, for that matter, anywhere else in Burgundy, and it's good enough so that it reflects its own style that, to its biggest fans, is distinctive and unconfusable.
- Pinot Noir: It is likely that La Romanée has been produced from varietal Pinot Noir since its inception, and it certainly is now. See the Major Producers section for a description of this wine.
- Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair: This domaine has been the owner of La Romanée for decades, but up until the 2002 vintages the wine was labeled as Bouchard Pere et Fils, since the latter domaine was acting as a négociant. Then, Comte Liger-Belair began bottling the great cuvée themselves, and as such two separate labels ran for several vintages. Starting with the 2006 vintage, the old Bouchard wines were completely eliminated. Generally, during the overlapping few years, the Comte Liger-Belair was a better wine, but the difference was slight. These wines are much more energetic than those of, say, Richebourg, due to the fact that powerful although not bitter acidity is present. Red fruit, especially raspberry, combines with flowers, oak spice, and bitter chocolate to produce a wine of both elegant fruit and wild earthiness. As usual for Vosne-Romanée, there's a powerful undercurrent of minerals to keep the wine fresh, precise, and exhilarating. Concentrated and ripe but neither rich nor heavy, this wine combines the greatest wildness and power of flavor of Vosne-Romanée with the balance that many of the second-rate wines do not have. By the area's standards it is accessible early; indeed, this wine is so silky and elegant that it is tempting to drink it within the first few years. Aging for 5-20 years is equally viable. Prices range from $800 to $2,000 depending on vintage, which is somehow a fraction of Romanée-Conti, but a serious investment even for Grand Cru Burgundy. And yet each vintage of La Romanée is sold out shortly after being produced.
La Romanée is too small to have any subregions.