Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Humble White from Domaine de la Romanée Conti

A Haute-Côtes de Nuits Blanc from Domaine de la Romanée Conti? Surely you jest. Or as the French would say, "C'est un blague ou quoi!" But as Neal Martin reports in his latest installment of Wine-Journal (now housed on; subscription, alas, required), this is no joke. This most famous of Burgundy domaines, producer of seven grand crus, is bottling a simple white wine from one of the humblest appellations in the region. But unlike the novelty bottling from Chateau Palmer I wrote on the other day, this is solely a charitable venture from Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of DRC, as all of the proceeds will be donated for the restoration of the historic monastery of Saint Vivant.

There have been scattered sightings of the bottling reported on French wine boards for the past few years, but Martin's, I believe, is the first major report in English. Further details on the venture can be found here in French and Japanese. For those without either language, here's my schoolboy's rendering from the French (corrections heartily welcomed):

The Monastery of Saint-Vivant is situated above a splendid site behind the Côte de Nuits and Vosne-Romanée. Founded around the year A.D. 900 by a vassal of the Dukes of Burgundy, and attached to the Abbey of Cluny in the 11th century, it is a "haut-lieu" of Burgundy, unfortunately in ruins today, which the Association "Abbey of Saint-Vivant" has undertaken for some years to preserve.

This Haute-Côtes de Nuits is made from vines situated in an enclave in the abbey. Proceeds from the sales of the bottles are given to the Assocation, which will devote them entirely to the work of preservation.

Martin declines to give a tasting note for the 2003, writing "
it seems inappropriate for a wine not commercially available." It is quite unclear whether DRC's famously rigorous methods can work a kind of magic with vines of such humble pedigree. Martin reports that only 60 cases are produced annually, with most going to the French restaurant Lavinia. Yet the British scribe was perhaps a little naive in declaring: "do not expect to see them on eBay." A quick Google search revealed that indeed one bottle of the 2000 DRC Haute-Côtes de Nuits Blanc was offered on this March! (Bidding went up to 25 euros, below the reserve price; the picture above is from the now-concluded auction). Happy hunting!

1 comment:

William said...

Here is a far clearer translation:

The sun monastery has risen to the place where rear side of coat and is splendid. It is established by around 900 by the Bourgogne public servant, is related to the monastery of 11 centuries. As for the place there is the Bourgogne hillock. But regrettable at today it has become the ruins. The monastery association it was established several years ago then the protection of the monastery as a purpose.

 The field of this automatic coat has been categorized to the flying area of the monastery. The profit of the wine is applied to the activity expense of the association which designates the protection of all monasteries as purpose.

Thanks to Google.