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Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru

Romanée-Saint-Vivant is a grand cru vineyard site and corresponding appellation in the Côte de Nuits sub-region of Burgundy. One of six grand cru sites in the village of Vosne-Romanée, the vineyard lies immediately adjacent to the Romanée-Conti and Richebourg Grand Cru climats on the mid-slopes of the Côte d'Or escarpment.

The Saint-Vivant in the vineyard's name comes from the order of monks who originally owned it, and their monastery, L'Abbaye de Saint-Vivant. The Romanée part of the title dates back to the time before the vineyards were sub-divided by various acquisitions and sales, and Romanée-Saint-Vivant was the eastern part of the larger Romanée site.

The Romanée-Saint-Vivant climat is of average size (22 acres/9ha) when compared with all Burgundy grands crus, but is the largest in Vosne-Romanée. The climats here are known for their small size and the fine-grained definition of their boundaries and terroir. To put this in context, Romanée-Saint-Vivant is one-fifth the size of Clos de Vougeot, but still five times larger than its neighbour La Romanée.

Over the years, materials from the upper slopes of the Côte d'Or have been brought down onto the lower-lying land by the effects of rain and simple gravity. Because it is situated a little lower down than its neighbours, Romanée-Saint-Vivant has a slightly deeper layer of topsoil and a higher percentage of clay in the overall composition. This accounts for its specific terroir – which is measurable even within the vineyard itself – and the corresponding difference in the style of its wines.

Romanée-Saint-Vivant wines are considered the lightest and most delicate of the grand cru wines from Vosne-Romanée and neighbouring Flagey-Echezeaux (the vineyards belonging to the two villages are contiguous and are often grouped together), and do not attract quite as much attention as their Romanée-Conti counterparts. Nonetheless, they are held in extremely high regard and have a dedicated following among consumers with a preference for the more delicate side of Pinot Noir.

In order to claim the appellation Romanée-Saint-Vivant Grand Cru, wines must be made from at least 85% Pinot Noir grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are permitted to a maximum of 15%) grown exclusively within the climat, and must also meet the strict production conditions specified in the appellation laws. These conditions are designed to guarantee the quality of the wines, and control such factors as vineyard management, maximum yield levels and the natural sugar and alcohol content of the finished wine.

As a general rule, Romanée-Saint-Vivant shouldn’t be drunk under about ten years of age but sometimes they will age for up to 20 or 30 years. These flamboyant red wines fully express the subtlety and complexity of the Burgundian Pinot Noir grape. Their colour is a dark ruby turning crimson with age. Their wide-ranging bouquet is divided among small red and black fruits, violet, spices and, with time, underbrush. On the palate, Romanée-Saint-Vivant is well-defined with a powerful body. It is delicate, sensual, frank and full.

In addition to their powerful structure and exceptional longevity, the great wines of Romanée-Saint-Vivant develop tertiary aromas of truffle, underbrush and leather. It goes without saying that strongly flavoured meats will do them justice: furred or feathered game, braised, in sauce, or simply grilled. Wildfowl such as Peking duck or a nice cut of roast veal will be gently enveloped by the close-packed but elegant tannins of these mighty Pinot Noir wines.

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