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Richebourg


Wine By Region Right Europe Right France Right Burgundy Right Côte de Nuits Right Vosne-Romanée Right Richebourg


Richebourg has become a legend in the wine world, now on a par with the most outstanding multiple-owner Grand Cru vineyards such as Musigny. It lies within the village of Vosne-Romanée and is surrounded by other Grands Crus, many of which are also considered to produce some of the top wines in the world. Richebourg has become its own status symbol, gaining great respect by many Burgundy hounds, and the top cuvées are often considered to be among the best red wines in the world.

Lovers of Richebourg's completely distinctive wines, which reflect their terroir in a way that couldn't be clearer, know that the name is accurate: Richebourg produces wines of great richness. Although rarely sweet, the flavors themselves are so rich that they are often called heavy, but the lovers of the wine see this as a good thing. Also, it provides the ability to age for at least 20 years.

At 18.3 acres, the vineyard is fairly small, not much larger than La Tâche, but there are now many owners. Still, unlike Chambertin and its satellites, the Richebourg vineyard is completely reliable; in fact, there are no slackers among the domaines that bottle wine here. This can be attributed to the audacious expense that a domaine must invoke to get a parcel of the vineyard, higher than perhaps any other in the world. Annual production is around 2,000 cases.

Richebourg's fame is increased by the fact that Domaine de la Romanée-Conti owns close to half of the vineyard land, and produces the most famous and expensive cuvée here. Smaller, less exclusive producers attempt to make wine of an even higher quality, and when they succeed Richebourg's pedigree is brought an inch closer to perfection. Unfortunately, lovers of the style need to be wealthy in order to satisfy their habit, as even the lowest-end bottles cost a few hundred dollars apiece.

History

Richebourg's ownership began with the Abbey of Citeaux, but the historical abbey was unable to maintain a consistent grip on the land, and it slipped away during the French Revolution. When the dust settled there were multiple owners, and no domaine was able or desired to gain a complete hold on the vineyard. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti eventually bought up half the land, but they did not make it into a monopole.

As for AOC status, Richebourg was one of the first to obtain it, in 1936.

Climate and Viticulture

The mysterious, grand soil of Vosne-Romanée is what gives Richebourg is exclusivity and its wines their elegant richness. It's not just about having great weather conditions, or being beautifully located on a slightly sloped hill where clay and limestone abound. It's about a concentration of these three things, taken to new highs, that gives Richebourg a viticultural climate comparable only to a select few vineyards in the limestone escarpment known as the Côte d'Or.

While wines from Musigny and Chambertin may subjectively be better than any Vosne-Romanée, the Vosne village's undoubted trump card is the great diversity amongst its own Grands Crus and even Premiers Crus. The best Richebourgs distinctively shout out dark fruit, smoky minerality, and a rich heaviness that could only convey that particular vineyard. It's something that fascinates and baffles all Burgundy hounds, and makes Richebourg one of the most sought-after vineyards in the world.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

There aren't many Richebourg producers, and it's hard to actually find a bad wine here. In fact, these excellent wines generally have some of the highest pedigrees of any Grand Cru multiple-owner vineyard. The side effect of this, and also the fact that many producers split up a small amount of land, is that production is low and prices are high. So, most Richebourgs cost $300 or more, probably an average of $500, and many top bottles can easily cost thousands.

We discuss nine producers here that make exemplary wine of a very consistent pedigree.

Subregions

Wines here simply say "Richebourg" or "Le Richebourg" followed by the Grand Cru designation.