Domaine de la Romanée Conti produces some of Burgundy’s most illustrious Grand Crus, including its namesake, Romanée Conti. The domaine’s vineyards surround the village of Vosne Romanée and appear to have been owned by the priory of Saint Vivant in the 13th century (though they may well predate its existence). In the 17th century, many of the vineyards were sold to private buyers, including the Croonembourg family, who acquired “Romanée” in 1631. A century later, the Croonembourgs sold the vineyard to the Prince de Conti, who was forced to pay generously in order to outbid Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV. The birth pangs of revolution saw the prince’s land sequestered in the 1790s, though the domaine’s flagship vineyard still bears his name today.
In 1869, Romanée Conti was bought by Jacques-Marie Duvault-Blochet who purchased holdings in neighbouring Grand Cru vineyards. His land was then bequeathed to successive generations and currently falls to the Villaine and Leroy/Roch families, with the latter acquiring part ownership in 1942. Family tension rose in the 1990s, however, when DRC became embroiled in a legal battle with former co-director Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy, after she was ousted from her role over a marketing dispute. Since then, Bize-Leroy has set up her own domaines in the region and remains a notable local character. DRC is currently run by co-owner Aubert de Villaine. The estate's properties include a second monopole in the form of La Tache (purchased in 1933), as well as sizeable holdings in Richebourg, Romanee St Vivant, Grands-Echezeaux, Echezeaux and Le Montrachet.
The DRC index – currently composed of the 2000-2009 vintages of Echezeaux, Grands Echezeaux, Richebourg, Romanée Conti, Romanée Saint Vivant and Tache – has put in a striking performance. As shown below, over six years it has risen 109%, compared to the Bordeaux First Growths’ rise in the same period of 30%. While the index has not been completely immune to the prevailing climate, dipping in 2012, it has since climbed further, reaching a record high in June 2013.
DRC wines have always been expensive, due to their high quality and low production levels (the flagship wine, Romanée Conti, produces only around 450 cases each year). Many have now reached eye-watering prices. The average 12x75 case in our DRC index costs £22,628, compared to Bordeaux First Growths at £4,658, Super Tuscans at £1,807 and Champagne at £1,560.
The First Growths’ price gains proved unsustainable, but DRC’s climb has now far overtaken Bordeaux. It remains to be seen for how long it can keep rising.