The 1945 Domaine Romanee Conti and its Survival of the Phylloxera Pandemic

The 1945 Domaine Romanee Conti is considered one of the best wines in the world and is often seen as the most perfect and the most expensive wine of Burgundy. It has a powerful fragrance of violet blended with cherry, resulting in a suave elegance.

The wine has been highly appreciated for generations, and the vineyard is known for its superb wine quality. Its location in the Vosne vineyard territory is ideal for optimal grape ripening, with a higher landscape in the west than in the east. It receives the first rays of the sun in all seasons, imbuing it with the energy of the day’s hottest temperatures.

This wine of La Romanée is the best of the Côte d’Or, if not all of the French Republic’s vineyards. It consistently distinguishes itself from those of the other terroirs of preference; its brilliant and velvety color, ardor, and scent enchant all five senses. It’s well-kept and gets better with age, especially as it approaches the eighth or tenth year.

Despite diminishing harvests due to vine vigor, Romanée-Conti was one of the last Burgundy vineyards to be rebuilt with grafted vines when the phylloxera pandemic occurred. The last vintage of pre-phylloxeric wines was 1945, when the yield was only one-tenth of what it is today, or around 2.5 hectoliters per acre, resulting in the production of only 600 bottles.

The 1945 Domaine Romanee Conti

Image by Vinotecarium from Pixabay

Thousands of bottles claiming to be Romanée-Conti 1945 have been traded over the decades, including large-format bottles that the Domaine never filled in that vintage, despite the wine’s small production and continuous consumption. As a result, it has been determined that Romanée-Conti 1945 is foraged to an extraordinarily high degree. The old grapes were uprooted, and the vineyard was left fallow after the 1945 harvest. After replanting the vineyard in 1947, no Romanée-Conti vintages were produced until 1952.

Vintages from the pre-World War II years of Romanée-Conti were highly valued even before the replanting. In 1945, the most expensive burgundy on the 21 Club’s wine list was a 1929 Romanée-Conti, which sold for US$18 (at a time when a full dinner at the Club cost as little as US$15 and working-class men and women paid US$0.35 or US$0.50 for a cheap lunch at the Automat). However, organic farming has been used in the vineyard of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti since 1985.

This Day in Wine History

1932: Andre Tchelistcheff studied grape growing for over 20 years before starting his own vineyard just outside Grands Echézeaux village in southern France. He named his estate after an old Romanov family that owned land there during World War I.

1945: World War II ended and with phylloxera spreading across Europe, Tchelistcheff decided to plant 100 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon

References

[1] McCoy, Elin. 2018. “Most Expensive Bottle Wine: 1945 Romanee-Conti Burgundy Auction.” Bloomberg.com. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-15/most-expensive-bottle-wine-1945-romanee-conti-burgundy-auction.

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