Sunday, October 06, 2013

Will the real "La Romanee" please stand up? A case of historical disinformation

There so many "Romanee" plots in Vosne-Romanee it's hard to keep track - what is real and what is not? We can clear things up with a little bit by looking back in the history books.

Aprill 11, 1866 - The Village of Vosne by government decree attaches it's most famous plot "La Romanee" to it's name. Thus Vosne-Romanee is born.

So what exactly is this most famous of growths "La Romanee" which predates all AOC codes and even the name of the village it comes from? La Romanee originally belonged to the church - the priory of Saint-Vivant de Vergy.

It was not until 1512 after Burgundy was annexed by Louis XI that the priory of Saint-Vivant had to declare their assets or vineyard holdings for taxation purposes. And here we get our first clue through a detailed accounting of "La Romanee". Of the 4 Clos declared were Clos des Neuf Journaux, Clos du Moytan, Clos des Quartre Journaux and Clos de Cinq Journaux.
It is this Clos de Cing Journaux which is what were known as "La Romanee".

So we now know where "La Romanee" comes from - great! ***WRONG NOT SO SIMPLE***

On July 18,1760 Louis-Francois de Bourbon purchased "La Romanee" from Andre de Croonembourg for 92,200 Livres (the math could be a bit fuzzy here but it's roughly worth 4000 ounces of gold!!). Okay so here is the first punch line; Louis-Francois de Bourbon was also Prince de Conti. And there you now have what is the most famous wine in Burgundy "Romanee-Conti". This piece of land fits exactly with what we know today as the RC in DRC; one and the same.

HOLD ON... What's going on??!! We still have a "La Romanee" today but that couldn't have been split from Romanee Conti if all the land is accounted for today versus hundreds of years ago?

So what exactly is "La Romanee" today?

In 1790 documents refer to parcels of land adjacent to "La Romanee/Romanee Conti" and were known ass "Es Echanges, Au Sentier du Pretre, En La Romanee and D'Echanges". In 1791 these parcels were integrated into the Richebourgs but from 1815-1826 General Luis Liger-Belair acquired the six parcels and in 1827 registered them as a single parcel called "La Romanee".

So the most famous growth in Burgundy known "La Romanee" is what we now know as "Romanee-Conti" and what we call "La Romanee" today is not connected - but it is close to Romanee Conti - that is undeniable. At least it was not part of the parcels held by the Saint Vivant priory from centuries ago. We can't blame General Liger-Belair for a bit of marketing savvy - gee there really are no new tricks when in comes to this kind of stuff.