One of the most famous, most photographed, spots in the vinous world is, probably, the bottom left corner of the Romanée-Conti vineyard. There are probably a couple of tourists there now. I wonder what they’re looking at? The inscription on the wall? The vines? The soil? Themselves? I wonder what they’re thinking.
Drive up past this point, with the vineyard on your right, and it gets better. La Grande Rue, still the underperformer, is on your left. La Romanée, the mysterious knight, sits above La Romanée Conti on your right. The road curls round and you can stop, alight, and sit above Les Gaudichots and La Tâche, looking down on what is the finest vista I can imagine (though the pitch at Selhurst Park viewed from the Directors’ section is at the back of my mind like an itch that I can’t quite reach). Aux Champs Perdrix is behind you. From up here it all becomes clear. The alternative spot to take this all in is at the bottom of La Tâche, looking up. If you don’t “get” Burgundy then these are the two spots you need to visit.
Personally, I like my Vosne from the top of the slopes. The soil is leaner, the wine more ethereal. More lifted. Move south a little to the Vosne/Nuits borders and I reckon I could nail the vineyards blind (expense prohibits this exercise in Vosne but I would love to have a crack if a sponsor is available).
Going back to those tourists. That black people-carrier parked on the corner. How far up the slope do they like their Vosne or their Nuits? I wonder. I speculate that if they are from the East they favour the top, if from the West they favour the chunkier wines from the bottom.
Wine is all about soil.
Over the past few weeks many people have asked me: “what exactly do you really want to do?”
Here’s the answer:
I want a hectare of Pauillac. Close to the D2. South of the town. With a bit of slope and a bit of gravel underneath. And, rather than making Château X or Château Y, I want to make Pauillac. I think I know what Pauillac tastes like. It’s the Vosne of Bordeaux. And it has, to my mind or palate, a lift and austerity that matches the Vosne vineyards at the top of the slope. Beauxmonts, Reignots. Cabernet is not Pinot Noir but – I think – grape variety is secondary here. Brilliance, depth, that closer to God feeling, is not exclusive to one medium.
Latour, the silverback of Pauillac, covers just under 80 hectares of vines, about the same as all the grand crus of Vosne. The “Enclos” of Latour, which covers 47 hectares, is the peach. Compare this to 0.85 hectares of La Romanée or 1.8 hectares of La Romanée-Conti and it’s pretty big. Somewhere in this enclos has to be the star, no? There has to be a spot of land that makes the jewel, makes the Conti or the Romanée. There has to be some juice that is the epitome, the ultimate focus point of Pauillac and, therefore, Bordeaux.
But I don’t need that hectare. I’m not greedy, and I may well be wrong about to boot. Just the equivalent of some village or premier cru will do for me.
That’s what I want to do.