It is often said that great wine begins in the vineyard, and with many of the world’s most storied wines, that is unequivocally true. Yes, viticulture can be confounding, but it’s the all-important factor that truly makes great wine. The soils upon which these vines grow matter, as do their elevations, orientation to the sun and various microclimates.
Get to know some of these special vineyards below.
Burgundy lays claim to a large number of the world’s most storied vineyards. Many of these inimitable sites, also known as climats, are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Perhaps the most iconic site is Romanée-Conti, of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) fame.
This vineyard is a monopole, which means it’s a vineyard or appellation owned and controlled by one winery. Its cemetery-like cross stands sentry at the mouth of the vineyard, lending an almost solemn reverence to match its near-mythical status.
Romanée-Conti is also a clos, or walled vineyard. This particular clos only produces around 450 cases of wine per year from a parcel that measures just under five acres. In 2018, a bottle of 1945 DRC sold for $558,000 at a Sotheby’s auction. Other notable older vintages include the 1966 and 1978.
The vineyard was planted in the 13th century by monks of the Saint-
Notable Producer (if the opportunity ever presents itself): Domaine de la Romanée-Conti
Another revered climat, or vineyard, in Burgundy is Montrachet, located in the Côte de Beaune, the southern part of the esteemed Côte d’Or. Centered around the town of the same name, the Côte de Beaune is not strictly a white wine region, but the whites are for what the region is known.
Montrachet is a grand cru vineyard thought to be the greatest place in the world for Chardonnay production. It’s situated between the famed towns of Puligny and Chassagne. The vineyard lies midslope and faces southeast, which protects against the strong, westerly winds.
Well-draining, calcium-rich soils allow the grapes to stay hydrated, and to thrive.
Like Romanée-Conti, it also covers a small growing area—only 20 acres, or eight hectares—to produce the longest-lived and most expensive white wines in the world. Montrachet is not a monopole, so there are a few owners who make wine from the site.