Vosne-Romanee is a small commune in the Cote de Nuits district of Burgundy. Originally named just Vosne, the village took the suffix Romanee in 1866 in honor of its most-prized vineyard, La Romanee. It is often grouped together with the neighboring commune of Flagey-Echezeaux; while the villages are entirely separate, their finest vineyards form a cluster immediately north of Vosne-Romanee.
The village has been a known source of quality wines for more than a thousand years, since the arrival of the monks of the Saint-Vivant monastery. Today, it makes wine almost exclusively from Pinot Noir, although up to 15% of the local white varieties are permitted, to allow for natural planting variations and mutations. The wines are made under the Vosne-Romanee communal appellation (with about one-third coming from Premier Cru sites) and six Grand Cru appellations, each pertaining to a specific vineyard site or climat.
The entire surface area of Vosne-Romanee's Grand Cru vineyards is only 67 acres (27ha) – about half the size of the single Clos de Vougeot climat just across the commune boundary – and is divided between six individual sites: La Grand Rue, La Tache, Richebourg, La Romanee, Romanee-Saint-Vivant and the famous Romanee-Conti. Despite this small surface area, Vosne-Romanee's wines are some of the most respected (and most expensive) in the world.
Vosne-Romanee's best vineyards lie just above the village, on the mid-slopes of the Cote d'Or; this is where the Grand Cru sites are located. Around these prestigious sites are dotted the Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru vineyards and some entirely unclassified land. The difference between a Grand Cru vine and one deemed worthy only of the regional Bourgogne appellation is sometimes a matter of inches.
Below this mid-slope section the slopes are too shallow to offer any degree of elevation or increased exposure to the sun. On the higher slopes, as the ground rises towards the spine of the Cote d'Or, the mesoclimate cools slightly, reducing the likelihood of the grapes attaining optimum ripeness and complexity.
The classic Vosne-Romanee wine is considered by many to have the perfect balance of weight, structure, elegance and longevity. Tasting notes often refer to a combination of tart red fruits (particularly cherries and raspberries) and darker elements of undergrowth, licorice and smoke. Wines made from the appellation's Premier Cru vineyards, and which conform to its strictest production conditions, are entitled to the name Vosne-Romanee Premier Cru.