Vosne-Romanee Wine Region Summary

Known as the Pearl of the Cote d’Or, Vosne Romanee is one of the most prestigious vineyards in the whole of burgundy, home to some of the region’s finest and most expensive wines. Ratified by the decree of 11 September 1936, the Vonse-Romanee appellation d’Origine Controlée is located in the heart of the Cote de Nuits, lying to the north of Nuits-Saint-Georges.

The relatively small Village is only 1.5 square miles in total area and boasts 6 grand cru sites (4 of which are under monopoly control) as well as 14 premier cru vineyards. The total area under production is roughly 175 hectares, 25 ha of which are the grand cru vineyards, 57 hectares of premier cru, with the remaining 95 ha contributing towards the Vosne Romanée village classification. As per the 1936 classification the wines produced by the neighbouring Flagey-Echezeaux are also considered part of Vosne. Its home to around 60 hectares of vineyards, two of which are grand cru (Echezeaux and Grand Echezeaux) as well as three premier cru sites (beux monts, les rouges and en orveaux).

Vosne Romanee boasts a long and rich history. From very early on it was recognised as an excellent area for vineyards, in 460 AD, Clotaire spoke of the vines of the Bez abbey in Vosne being given over to wine-growing monks and in 890 the monastery of Saint-Vivant was founded, the lands of which would eventually become the origin of the Grand Cru of Romanee Saint Vivant. It was also in Vosne that the Dukes of Burgundy had their hunting lodge, a property that would later be owned by the Prince of Conti, whose name originated the most famous wine in the world ‘La Romanée Conti’.

Up until 1789, most of the vineyards belonged to monastic orders and major lords, but with the revolution came a change of ownership. Despite the major upheaval, the vineyard of ‘La Romanee’ was eventually acquired by the wealthy Croonembourg family and had by 1866 become so famous that the village of Vosne appended its name in order to become Vosne-Romanée.

The infestation of phylloxera at the end of the 19th century caused more turmoil, as vineyards once again changed hands with owners unable to care for them properly. Despite this uneven and tumultuous period, Vosne-Romanee still emerged in the 20th century as one of the leading appellations in the whole of Burgundy, producing some of the world’s most profound and exhilarating wines.

Embedded in a valley lined with limestone, from its vantage point the hills of Vosne-Romanee offer a fantastic view of the plains of the Bresse region. Vineyards here are very narrow because of the landscape formed by the thick layers of Limestone and the best are located on the slopes of the hills.

The soil of Vosne’s vineyards is defined by experts as ‘brown chalky soil’, resulting from a combination of clay and limestone. There is just a thin coat of earth which covers the vine-making slope, even thinner for those vineyards planted above the village. The Grand Crus in Vosne are located on the mid-slope where limestone is close to the surface and the thin layer of earth cover makes the vine suffer. This is also where drainage is best, and this unique combination of limestone, clary and rocks is where the grapes reach their best maturity every year.

It was Courtépée who in the 18th century who wrote that ‘there are no common wines in Vosne’ and whilst there is certainly a degree of truth to that especially when you consider the unique characteristics of each of the grand cru, one can surmise as to say the wines produced in Vosne are rounded, fleshy, sensual and velvety. Undoubtedly the greatest of which exhibit remarkable richness, depth and complexity of flavour as well as the ability to age effortlessly.

Whilst there are no strict rules in place (and in this day and age its commonplace for wines to be open and drunk much sooner) the Grand Crus are best drunk with at least 20 years of age, the premiers optimal from 10-20 years and the village wines most accessible from 3-10 years.