How to navigate the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti

A guide to the only domaine in Burgundy to produce wine exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards, including the most sought-after examples ever sold. Illustrated with lots offered at Christie’s

Pinot noir vineyards, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in the Vosne-Romanée

Pinot Noir vineyards, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, in the commune of Vosne-Romanée, France. Photo: Agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, often abbreviated DRC, is a legendary Burgundy estate known the world over as one of the greatest wine producers on the planet.

A noble history

The domaine is believed to have its origins in the 13th century, when many of the vineyards were owned by a local monastery, the Abbey of Saint Vivant in Vosne. In 1760, the vineyards were the subject of a bidding war between Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, and her bitter rival the king’s cousin, Louis-François de Bourbon, Prince of Conti. The mistress’s pockets were not as deep as those of the prince, who handed over 8,000 livres for the estate, appending his title to the best vineyard.

Domaine de la Romanée Conti cellars

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti cellars. Photo: James Andanson / Sygma via Getty Images

Unfortunately for the prince, his reign at the domaine was short-lived, as his lands were seized and auctioned off during the French Revolution. Nonetheless, this regal pedigree is felt, even today, in the sumptuous and evolved nature of the wines.

Elite vineyards with limited supply

DRC is relatively small. It produces just 6,000-8,000 cases per year and is the only domaine in Burgundy to produce wine exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards. Also incredibly rare, two of their Grands Crus are ‘monopoles’ — vineyards controlled entirely by a single estate: Romanée-Conti and La Tâche.

DRC additionally produces wines from Richebourg, Romanée-Saint-Vivant, Grands-Echézeaux, Echézeaux and Corton. Historically, Montrachet has been the only white wine produced, but in 2018 the domaine began farming a 2.9-hectare parcel of Corton-Charlemagne, leased from Domaine Bonneau du Martray.

The Romanée-Conti vineyard in Burgundy

The Romanée-Conti vineyard in Burgundy. Photo: Getty Images

Given the wines’ quality, status, and scarcity, demand far outweighs supply, which has sent prices soaring. The domaine currently tops the list of most expensive wines ever. In 2016, Christie’s in New York sold five magnums of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 1990 for $269,500 against a high estimate of $200,000.

And while that may seem stratospheric, prices continue to rise. DRC remains one of the most sought-after wines in the auction market, and for those lucky enough to try a bottle, it’s easy to understand why. Any wine collector should be well versed in the wines of DRC. Below is an overview of its vineyards and the wines they produce.

Romanée-Conti

Romanée-Conti is one of the most renowned vineyards in the world. Located in the commune of Vosne-Romanée, the 1.8-hectare vineyard is perfectly positioned mid-slope, with excellent sun exposure and drainage. The wines are lauded for their subtle and mysterious nature. Layers of complexity continuously unfold, revealing a profound wine with a perfectly velvety texture and intense perfume.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, 1991. 2 bottles per lot. Estimate: $24,000-36,000. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

La Tâche

Just to the south of Romanée-Conti lies La Tâche, the largest of DRC’s vineyards at 6.06 hectares. Its distinct soil structure and slightly higher elevation result in a wine that is more robust but often equal to Romanée-Conti in terms of depth and complexity. There is an enticing tension between rigour and elegance, with firm, structured tannins juxtaposing an ephemeral range of aromas.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, 2010. 1 bottle per lot. Estimate: $4,500-7,000. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

Richebourg

To the north of Romanée-Conti is Richebourg. Of DRC’s non-monopoles, Richebourg is widely considered the greatest. DRC controls 3.5 hectares of the eight-hectare vineyard. It is similar to Romanée-Conti in terms of elevation and soil structure, but the wines are decidedly more robust — they are often described as rich, voluptuous and intense.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Richebourg, 2005. 1 bottle per lot. Estimate: $3,000-4,500. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

Romanée-Saint-Vivant

Romanée-Saint-Vivant lies nearest to the village of Vosne-Romanée. DRC owns 5.3 of this non-monopole’s 9.44 hectares. It sits on a gentle slope facing east. Unlike Richebourg, Romanée-Saint-Vivant is defined by its light and delicate nature, airy perfume and silky texture.

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Romanee-Saint-Vivant, 1991. 2 bottles per lot. Estimate: $5,000-7,000. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

Echézeaux

With a total of 37.69 hectares, Echézeaux is one of Burgundy’s largest Grand Crus. DRC’s holdings are just 4.67 hectares, located on the slope above Grands-Echézeaux. While still a Grand Cru, the wines are generally not considered to be in the same echelon as the others. They are slightly less complex and more rustic, but nevertheless exquisite examples of top-tier Burgundy.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Echézeaux, 2009. 1 bottle per lot. Estimate: $2,000-3,000. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

Grands-Echézeaux

Bordering Echézeaux, the superior Grands-Echézeaux covers and area of 9.14 hectares, 3.53 of which are owned by DRC. The vineyard is relatively flat and produces wines that, compared to Echézeaux, are more richly textured, structured and intense. They still possess a rustic quality, with notes of game and bramble fruit; but with bottle age, that is decidedly a good thing.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Grands-Echézeaux, 2010. 1 bottle per lot. Estimate: $2,400-3,500. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

Corton

DRC’s holding in Corton is 2.28 hectares. The vines were leased in 2008 and first harvested in 2009. The holdings come from three different lieux-dits (distinct parts of the vineyard with their own characteristics): Clos du Roi, Bressandes and Renardes. The wines are deep and bold, with firm, structured tannins. They can be unapproachable in youth, but with time they offer generous rewards.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Corton, 2014. 1 bottle per lot. Estimate: $1,600-2,400. Offered in Fine and Rare Wines Online: Featuring Two Superlative Collections on 20-31 October at Christie’s Online

Corton-Charlemagne

The domaine’s newest holding is a 2.9-hectare parcel of Corton-Charlemagne, which produces one of only two white wines in DRC’s line-up. The vines were leased in 2018 from the famed Domaine Bonneau du Martray, and the first harvest took place in 2019. The holdings come from two lieux-dits: Le Charlemagne (Aloxe-Corton) and En Charlemagne (Pernand-Vergelesses). DRC’s first vintage of Corton-Charlemagne was released in February 2022 and warmly received by critics.

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Montrachet

For many, Montrachet represents the pinnacle of Chardonnay. DRC’s bottling, which comes from just 0.68 hectares, certainly lives up to that description. The wines are defined by intensity, power and incredible concentration. While it needs time to develop in bottle, it has the potential to be one of longest-lived white wines on Earth.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Montrachet 2014. 1 bottle per lot. Sold for £6,875 on 7 June 2023 at Christie’s in London

Vosne-Romanée

In the 1930s, DRC produced a wine from young vines in its vineyards and named it Cuvée Duvault-Blochet, after the 19th-century founder of the domaine, Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blochet.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Vosne-Romanée Cuvée Duvault-Blochet 1999. 6 bottles per lot. Sold for £14,375 on 7 June 2023 at Christie’s in London

In 1999, the quality of the harvest was so good that DRC’s then co-director, the legendary winemaker Aubert de Villaine, decided to complete a second picking from all of the estate’s Grand Cru vineyards bar Romanée-Conti itself. For the resulting Vosne-Romanée (which he declassified to Premier Cru, despite the fruit coming from Grand Cru plots), he revived the 1930s name, Cuvée Duvault-Blochet.

Fine de Bourgogne

In special vintages, DRC use the lees (dead yeast) and pomace (solid remains from the pressing) of its Grand Cru wines to make two types of brandy.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Fine de Bourgogne 1979. 1 bottle per lot. Sold for £1,875 on 7 June 2023 at Christie’s in London

Fine de Bourgogne is distilled from the lees, and Marc de Bourgogne from the pomace. Both are then barrel-aged for many years — the 1970 Fine de Bourgogne, for example, was bottled in 1992.

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