If you’ve read our collection of articles and speculations on our blog, you know we typically write about how and why to invest in rare wines and spirits as well as what’s been happening in the markets on which we build your portfolios.
For a quick content departure, though, we wanted to put the spotlight on three wines we are loving at the moment: Romanée Conti, Henri Jayer and Domaine Leroy. We’d like to divulge exactly why these wines are at the top of our list this quarter and how you can get your hands on some of the finest domaines in the industry.
We’ve written about Romanée-Conti before, but it bears repeating. The wines produced from this Domaine are both the most sumptuous and stylish of Burgundy wines. Though DRC produces both red and white, the Pinot Noir alone has been revered for centuries. In 1780, in fact, the Archbishop of Paris declared it “velvet and satin in bottles.”
Of the wine’s most fervent fans, children’s author Roald Dahl had a rather adult way to describe his euphoria when drinking the famed DRC:
“Sense for me this perfume! Breathe this bouquet! Taste it! Drink it! But never try to describe it! Impossible to give an account of such a delicacy with words! To drink Romanée-Conti is equivalent to experiencing an orgasm at once in the mouth and in the nose.”
First, we’ll delve into the logistics and production. The main varietal Romanée-Conti produces is Pinot Noir. The AOC regulations also allow up to 15 percent Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay as accessory grapes, though these varieties are very rarely used for any Burgundy Grand Crus. The production is also phenomenally sparse. In 2008, only 4.6 acres of vineyard land was in production and 26 hectoliters of wine was produced. This corresponds to just 3,500 bottles of wine. The five year average annual production from 2003-2007 was just 5,600 bottles.
Now, the illustrious history of a spectacularly admired Domaine. Originally called Cru de Clos when owned by the church, the vineyard was acquired (through marriage) in 1631 by Philippe de Croonembourg. He changed the name to La Romanée. The already prominent vineyard changed hands once again in 1760, this time to the Prince of Conti who paid 8,000 livres for the land. Legend says an additional payment was tacked on, under the table, and that the high price was a result of a bidding war with the legendary Madame Pompadour – though many consider this to be a myth.
The Prince renamed the vineyard to include his own name, Romanée-Conti, and under his ownership the wines produced were consumed solely and exclusively for the prince himself. Luckily for us, that didn’t continue for long.
Romanée-Conti was seized in 1793, after the French Revolution, and was auctioned off with La Tâche. After changing hands several times in the years that followed, it finally ended up with Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blochet and Aubert de Villaine, whose family still owns the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
So, what makes this wine worthy of investment? Of course the quality of the wine is a major factor, but it’s the scarcity of this wine that drives the price up. Some of the rarest and greatest of
Bordeaux’s great châteaux produce several thousand bottles each year. Compare this to Romanée-Conti, producing just a few hundred in the same time period.
Along with that tempting scarcity is the undeniably unique taste. Burgundy in general is regarded as silky and balanced, due to the region’s soil, weather and geology. But the wines from DRC’s tiny 4.32 acre plot offer something refined and decidedly special.
Interested in learning more about Domaine de la Romanée-Conti? Contact one of our trusted brokers today.
Henri Jayer (1922-2006), red Burgundy producer of some of the most celebrated Pinot Noirs in the world, made our spotlight this quarter because his wines are among the most collectible and highly priced in the world.
First, let’s delve into the fascinating history of Jayer and his legacy.
Jayer was born in 1922, making him only 17 when World War II began. He was too young to serve in the armed forces like his brothers, so he focused on winemaking and inventing new ways to cultivate the best product possible. He studied winemaking under René Engel and even had training at the faculty of Beaune. His scholastic endeavors are what initially set Jayer apart from his peers; at that time, winemaking was largely done by experience, not schooling.
After the war, Henri’s eldest brother took over the family land, leaving Henri to work on rented land in Vosne. In 1950, Henri acquired the uncultivated plot of land, Le Cros Parantoux, which he would eventually turn into a revered vineyard and which would solidify his moniker, the “Master of Pinot Noir”. After the war, the plots Henri acquired were devastated, but he worked hard cultivating the land and his exquisite grapes and in 1978, produced his first Cros Parantoux vintage.
That vintage is considered one of the “best ever” for red Burgundy, Even Jayer said it was “one of the best vintages I vinified. Undoubtedly, the best of the century.” The last of his Cros Parantoux vintage was produced in 2001.
His death in 2006 created even more allure surrounding these coveted Pinot Noirs, sparking a “cult following” among knowledgeable wine collectors.
The six of his most sought-after productions include: Echézeaux Grand Cru, Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Brûlées, Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru (Les Meurgers), Richebourg Grand Cru, Henri Jayer’s Vosne-Romanée Village, and Vosné-Romanée 1er Cru Beaumonts.
Interested in learning more about Henri Jayer? Contact one of our trusted brokers today.
Domaine Leroy is widely considered to be second only to Romanée-Conti in terms of price and quality, and is a wine we truly love to deal with because it is so menacingly difficult to acquire. On the rare occasion we get to actually taste this wine, we must savour every last drop.
DL is based in the Côte de Nuits region of Burgundy and boasts some of the most iconic vineyards in the world, such as Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Musigny, Le Chambertin and Clos de Vougeot.
Wine merchant Francis Leroy founded the domaine in 1868 and saw his son and grandson vastly expand the business throughout the early 1900s. In 1942, grandson Henri was involved in the sale of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti with Edmond Gaudin de Villaine, who saw massive potential in the vines. The team decided it made more sense to buy the plots together than to split the domaine among
different, unverified proprietors who could ruin the land’s production and value.
Henri had his daughter, Lalou Leroy, take over the DRC co-management with Aubert de Villaine in 1971. Leroy decided to leave DRC after a disagreement with Villaine and focused her energy on the cultivation of her own domaine.
Leroy expanded DL in 1988 when she purchased 52 acres of vineyards from Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin. Under her direction, Domaine Leroy has established itself as one of the most highly regarded Burgundys in the world. Leroy also owns and directs Domaine d’Auvenay, giving her more than 56 acres to produce her exquisite wines.
What sets Domaine Leroy apart is the painstaking attention to producing quality wines. Madame Leroy began biodynamic cultivation on all of the vineyards when she took control. This tactic stemmed from her “profound belief that everything is alive: the soil, grounds, plants, ‘as alive as animals and humans…’”. Leroy immediately ceased using any products with synthetic chemicals on the vines.
Biodynamic farming is more than just a trendy practice to attract eco-enthusiasts. It’s a holistic system from beginning to end that shuns any chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides or pesticides.
Leroy wrote on the Domaine’s website, “all these things kill the life in both the plants and the soil.” To learn more about the way Leroy lovingly cultivates her vines, visit their website. Because of the pruning, crop-thinning and biodynamic farming, Leroy’s yields are astonishingly low. High quality wines in scarce supply? That’s what we love to see.
Interested in learning more about Domaine Leroy? Contact one of our trusted brokers today.
Thank you for taking the time to read a bit more about the wines we’re loving right now. All three bring something different and unique to the table, and are worthy of much more than just a few paragraphs about history, cultivation and rarity.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these wines, either just to chat about them or to learn about investment opportunities, we’d love to hear from you. And, stay tuned for the next installment of our Spotlight: Wines We’re Loving Right Now.
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.