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Published:  23 July, 2008

Domaine de la Romane-Conti has broken with its tradition of the last 60 years to market under its label a wine other than a grand cru. The 1999 Vosne-Romane Premier Cru, Cuve Duvault-Blochet - named after the 19th century founder of Burgundy's most famous domaine and shown in London last week by UK agent Corney & Barrow - has been produced from the younger vines in all six of the red grands crus (Echzeaux, Grands Echzeaux, Romane-St Vivant, Richebourg, La Tche and Romane-Conti), with a slightly higher proportion coming from Romane-St Vivant. Aubert de Villaine, co-owner and winemaker of the domaine, told Harpers that the vines are still relatively mature by other standards, with an average age of at least 25 years. As happens every year, wine from the youngest vines was sold off to ngociants. According to Adam Brett-Smith, managing director of Corney & Barrow, the decision to revive the cuve, last made in the great years of the 1930s, was taken because of the exceptional quality and style of the 1999 vintage, and may not be repeated. De Villaine explained that the challenge had been to harvest at ideal ripeness and to retain terroir variation. The fruit was picked earlier than normal, often only in the mornings, and selection was severe. He compared the vintage to 1966 and 1990, but thinks it has better acidity and body than the former, and more definition and restraint than the latter. Total production of the Cuve Duvault-Blochet is 21,055 bottles, and the UK in bond price is 292 per six-bottle case. The grands crus range from 474 (for the Echzeaux) to 3,846 (for the Romane-Conti).