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Romanée-St-Vivant


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Despite the fact that there are six Grands Crus in Vosne-Romanée, only two of them have multiple owners, the rest having been monopoles for a long time. Among the multiple-owner vineyards, Richebourg gets by far the most attention, while Romanée-St-Vivant is rather overshadowed. The reason for this is that Richebourg's rich, powerful, exotically tinged wines are considered to express an unusual Pinot Noir character, while Romanée-St-Vivant makes a more feminine style with fruity elegance and silky simplicity.

But on technical merits, the vineyard is almost equal to Richebourg, and is admirable for its expression of terroir just as much as any other vineyard in Vosne. In fact, Romanée-St-Vivant wines break from the tradition of power among Vosne-Romanée-sourced wines, and therefore express terroir even better than some of the more acclaimed regions.

There are 23 acres of vineyard here, not much more than Richebourg, but there are a number of owners. There are less than 3,000 cases total produced each year. The greatest claim to fame for Romanée-St-Vivant is that Domaine de la Romanée-Conti owns some vineyard space here, in fact over half of the land. This is a great boon to the vineyard's reputation, although in recent years the DRC offering has not been of ironclad quality.

History

Romanée-St-Vivant has an interesting history. It started out as the Clos St-Vivant, owned by the Abbey of St-Vivant. At one point, the abbey also owned Romanée-Conti and Richebourg, but they would hold RSV for longer and it was only this vineyard that took the abbey's name. However, the French Revolution dissolved the abbey's control, and eventually the vineyard was bought out by the Marey-Monge family.

This takes us into modern times: as expected, Romanée-St-Vivant became a Grand Cru in 1936. At this point, the Marey-Monge family was selling off their holdings, but still had the majority of the vineyard; during the 1960s they would lease it out to DRC, giving that domaine the majority of the vineyard land. In 1988 the domaine bought the family out, but recent vintages have still had the name Marey-Monge on them. This is confusing, but there seems to be no overall difference in quality between the Marey and non-Marey bottles.

Climate and Viticulture

Located directly to the east of Romanée-Conti and Richebourg, a bit above La Grande Rue on the hill, and otherwise surrounded by Vosne's best Premier Cru vineyards, Romanée-St-Vivant undoubtedly has prime growing space in the premier village in the world. They convey unique flavors from their unique terroir.

There is certainly more clay in the soil than in the surrounding vineyards, although the underlying base of limestone is still there. The reason for this is likely that clay has flowed down the hill into the vineyard over time due to its slope; the higher vineyards have less clay and more limestone. While the soil varies here, more clay is the likely explanation for the reason the wine is so drastically different than its direct neighbors. Clay is considered to make a much more feminine wine than limestone, which is the source of many powerful examples.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

There are actually a rather large number of producers here, since they all lease the land to each other and many different bottlings are produced. It's fairly easy to find a good bottle, but there are some that have little pedigree and charge as much as they want to. Speaking of prices, expect to pay at least $250 for most of these wines. Usually $400 will be a typical starting point, with top DRC bottlings commonly wandering into the thousands.

Here are eight of the most consistent and good producers in RSV.

Subregions

The parcel leased out to Romanée-Conti was originally called "Le Clos de Quatre Journeaux", but since then DRC has bought out even more than that. In fact, lieux-dits were originally rather common here, but in keeping with most of the Côte de Nuits Grands Crus lately, these designations are rarely used on the labels anymore.