This 12 hecatre property is run by Pascal Lachaux who took over from his father-in-law, Robert Arnoux, in 1995.Although always good, the quality of this domaine's wines has soared during the last 8 years under Pascal's tenure. He has initiated a policy of no fining or filtering, and an organic and biodynamic approach (he racks when the moon's descending, weeds when it's rising).
These are concentrated, polished and highly sought-after wines. Pascal's success can be measured by the number of 4WD Audis parked outside the house
Sandwiched between the vineyards of Vougeot and Nuits you might expect a vineyard to produce a rather rustic and concentrated wine, one to make the hairs on your chest curl - if you have them...
It's interesting then that this is the home of the most fabulously expensive pinot noir in the world, just occasionally the most fabulous tasting too, with, as Hugh Johnson observes; "reserves of flavour beyond imagination" this is, of-course, Vosne-Romanée.
Like several villages in the Côte d'Or, Vosne added a little cachet by appending the name of its most famous grand cru vineyard. The Imperial decree arrived on the 11th April 1866 and the village of Vosne-Romanée was born.
The AOC of Vosne-Romanée currently has in production an area of 156 hectares, 56 of which are 1er cru. The grand cru's of Vosne have their own AOC's covering an additional 26.8 hectares; the two largest, Romanée Saint-Vivant and Richebourg accounting for almost two thirds of that total. Then there are the 'jewels' of Vosne-Romanée; Romanée-Conti, La Romanée and La Tàche. Finally we shouldn't forget the fast improving La Grand Rue. Then there are the domaines...
Domaine Robert Arnoux:
Since 1858, five generations of Arnoux have been making wine in the Côte de Nuits. There is already a 6th generation waiting in the wings with the three sons of Pascal and Florence Lachaux. Pascal was working as a pharmacist specialising in homeopathy when he met Florence Arnoux, daughter of Robert; marriage and winemaking were soon to follow. Today Florence and Pascal are working hard to accommodate this sixth generation; it's hard to miss their large new cuverie sited behind the bright red restaurant La Toute Petite Auberge at the side of the RN74. Externally it's complete but it will require a few more weeks of internal work to be ready for vintage 2005.
The first vintage where Pascal was fully responsible for the winemaking was 1990. The domaine has since that time built a reputation for itself as a fine source of wines from Nuits, Vosne, Chambolle and a small parcel of Côte de Beaune - apart from a small plot of Aligoté all the wines are red. In-all, the domain exploits 14 hectares in 16 appellations, augmented most recently (2000) with parcels of Chambolle-Musigny villages and since the 2002 vintage a small negociant operation that's literally one or two barrels of each wine. The négociant wines offered for the 2003 vintage are a Chambolle 1er Fuées, a Gevrey 1er Lavaux-St-Jacques, Latricières and Griotte-Chambertin, Chambertin and Richebourg. Pascal says that it is for him a pleasure to have the opportunity to vinify other 'terroirs'. These vins de négoce are bought in as grapes or part finished wine and the elevage done in the cellars of the domaine just as the domaine wines. I actually found the 2003 Chambolle Fuées a little sweet, but it's impossible to make generalisations from one wine - particularly when we're discussing 2003.
Although Pascal works without insecticides and in a very organic way, he chooses to attach no 'labels' to the domaine - such as biodynamic or organic - he aims simply to make the best wine he can by spending ~70% of his time in the vineyard to achieve the best fruit possible; "without good grapes you can't make a good wine" he says.
Once the fruit leaves the vineyard it is 100% destemmed followed by a prefermentation maceration and a vinification of 15-22 days. Ten years ago the vinification was much faster and more 'stressful', today the wines show an extra roundness and more sophisticated tannins. Only natural yeasts are used, and the wines are aged for around 16 months in French oak - 100% new oak for the Grand Cru's, 40-60% for the 1ers and 30% villages. The villages wines from 2004 are currently maturing in the larger 600 litre 'demi-muids'. I would characterise the wines as clean, concentrated and well but not over oaked.
The 'flagship' wines from the domaine are their Vosne-Romanée 1er Les Suchots and their Grand Cru Romanée-Saint-Vivant, the Suchots in particular is held up to be the benchmark for the appellation. Prices for these two wines are high, indeed the Suchots' price-tag surpasses those of most Grand Crus. The parcel of Suchots is right at the top of the appellation in an area once described as 'Hautes-Suchots' whereas their Romanée Saint-Vivant parcel lies towards the bottom of the appellation and just across the road from La Grand Rue. http://www.arnoux-lachaux.com'