Exclusive: Burgundy’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Leases Corton-Charlemagne Vineyard
Burgundy’s hill of Corton is one of the most famed spots in wine. Now it is about to grow even more visible. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has entered into a lease to farm an approximately 7-acre parcel of Corton-Charlemagne owned by Domaine Bonneau du Martray. Aubert de Villaine, codirector of DRC, told Wine Spectator that the lease will start in November 2018 and “our first harvest will be 2019.”
Armand de Maigret, manager of Bonneau du Martray, sought a partner to farm a small portion of his domaine’s 27-acre parcel on the hill of Corton. He wanted a tenant who would share Bonneau du Martray’s philosophy and commitment to biodynamic cultivation. The lease, the terms of which were not disclosed, allows Bonneau du Martray to focus on a smaller area and lower its volume.
“Biodynamics is labor intensive and must be precise to function. The reaction time window is short,” de Maigret told Wine Spectator. “When biodynamics works, it is beautiful, but you can’t allow difficult weather to take over. And 27 acres of precise biodynamic farming is a big task in an area like Corton-Charlemagne. The reduction of our surface to a level where we are comfortable and able to do very precise biodynamic farming with the current infrastructure in place makes sense.”
For DRC, the lease expands its production on the hill of Corton and in the Côte de Beaune. In 2008, the domaine entered into a lease with Domaine Prince Florent de Mérode, allowing it to produce a Corton from the Bressandes, Renardes and Clos du Roi climats. “This acreage of Corton-Charlemagne will confirm our presence on this great site,” said de Villaine. “To make a great Corton-Charlemagne is a challenge that we are happy to undertake.” This is only DRC’s second white wine—it also makes a Chardonnay from Montrachet.
“We at the domaine are also extremely happy and look forward to work on our acreage in close relationship with the team of Bonneau du Martray, a great team,” said de Villaine.
For de Maigret, the choice of a partner was obvious. “How to take Bonneau du Martray to an even higher plateau than where it is today is a natural direction for us,” he said. “We did not consider anyone outside Aubert. Having the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in the appellation is actually very good for Corton-Charlemagne.”
Bonneau du Martray, whose cellars are in Pernand-Vergelesses, was owned by the Le Bault de la Morinière family for two centuries. Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Morinière, proprietor from 1994 to 2017, converted the vineyards to biodynamic production. In early 2017, real-estate and sports mogul Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche, as well as California wineries Screaming Eagle, Jonata and The Hilt, became the majority owner.