La Tâche is a legendary grand cru with a quite interesting history. It has always been a monopole – but nevertheless the monopole status have been challenged and the vineyard expanded quite dramatically within the last 100 years.
The history of La Tâche involves some of the most prominent domaines in Vosne, the neighburing Les Gaudichots and last but not least a great terroir and some gorgeous wines.
The early History of La La Tâche
The history of La La Tâche is not very clear, especially the ownership before the revolution is relatively unclear. It is however clear that the original La Täche vineyard only covered a small part of the area today known as La Täche – see map below.
Lavalle1 mentioned that La Tâche belonged to a chapter of monks from Nuits before the revolution and was acquired by the younger M. Marey at a price of 900 francs per ouvrée. It’s somehow hard to see why La Tâche should be called Joly de Bévy – if the ownership was transferred from the monks to Marey and then to Liger-Belair.
A more consistent scenario is put forward by Allen Meadows in his book Pearl of the cöte6 – this does however also have some unclear elements. The first known owner of La Tâche was, according to Allen Meadows, Jean-Baptiste Le Goux de la Berchére (1568 – 1631), the president of the Parliament of Bourgogne. 6.
Looking at the Le Gaux de la Bechére family three11 – La Tâche was first passed on from Jean-Baptiste Le Goux de la Berchére to his son Pierre Le Goux de la Berchére (1600 – 1653) who was married to Louise Joly in 1627. They passed the estate on to the oldest son Urbain Le Goux de la Berchére (? – 1721) who was married to Antoinette Le Fevre d’Eaubonne in 1675. The couple had two sons where the oldest – Louis Le Goux de la Berchére (1675 – 1737) took over the de la Berchére estate. He was married Madeleine Charlotte Voisin in 1706 – but it appears like the couple didn’t have any children 11.
According to Allen Meadows – Joseph Joly de Bévy took over La Tâche from his uncle M. de la Bechére in 1738, thus indicating that Louis Le Goux de la Berchére was the uncle of Joseph Joly de Bévy.
I have not found evidence of close family relations between the two gentlemen, but there could be a link between the families via Louise Joly, the grandmother of Louis Le Goux de la Berchére. It has however not been possible to identify a link between Louise Joly and the Joly de Bévy family.
Other sources does however indicate that Joseph Joly de Bévy bought Chateau de la Bechére from the Le Gaux family in 173812. This correspond well with the timeline, as Louis Le Goux de la Berchére passed away the year before. If this was the case, then he most likely also bought La Tâche from the estate of Louis Le Goux de la Berchére.
La Tâche Joly de Bévy
Joseph Joly de Bévy was president of the Parliament of Bourgogne6, and the vineyard at some point during his ownership assumed his family name – and it was mentioned as La Tâche Joly de Bévy when it was sold as bien national during the revolution.
When Joseph Joly de Bévy passed away he left La Tâche to his son Louis-Philibert Joly de Bévy (1736 – 1830) who was the owner until 1793. The end of the Joly de Bévy ownership came during the revolution, where La Tâche was confiscated in 1793 like many other prominent vineyards in Burgundy6.
La Tâche was sold as bien national in 1794 to the mayor of Nuits-Saint-Georges, Jacques Jacquinot, who apparently served as a front for the real buyer Claude-Francois Viénot-Rameau, a negociant from Dijon6.
Viénot-Rameau only kept La Tâche until 1800, when he ran into financial difficulties. He sold the vineyard to Guillaume Basire (or Bazire) the father-in-law of general Louis Liger-Belair6. Basire kept the vineyard until 1815 where it was sold or passed on to Louis Liger-Belair, who also acquired Chateau Vosne-Romanee and other vineyards in Vosne-Romanee.
The Liger-Belair ownership of La Tâche
The Liger-Belair ownership of La Tâche lasted for 118 years – from 1815 to 1933. The estate was first passed on from Louis Liger-Belair (1772 – 1835) to his adopted son Louis Charles Bocquillon Liger-Belair (1802 – 1878). After his death it was passed on to Edgar Bocquillon Liger-Belair (1835 – 1915)10.
During this period La Tache maintained it’s reputation as one of the very best Burgundian terroirs, and the owners of the neighburing Les Gaudichots were therefore tempted to use the La Tâche name to sell wines from Les Gaudichots.
In the last part of the 19th century several owners of Les Gaudichot began to use the term La Tâche when selling wines from Les Gaudichot. The background for this was most likely commercial, but it was also based on the fact that large parts of Les Gaudichots, were named Tâche Gaudichots or Tâche Gaudichottée in title deeds8. The situation resembles the case of Les Richebourg and Les Verroilles ou Richebourg, where the borders between the vineyards were somewhat diluted over time – and finally they were merged.
After the death of Edgar Bocquillon Liger-Belair in 1915 the estate was passed on to Michel Bocquillon Liger-Belair (1867 – 1924) 10 who sadly passed away in 1924 and left the domaine to his wife and children.
The use of the La Tâche name finally became too much for the Liger-Belair family. The disputes were settled in lawsuit in 1932 – and the court ruled that the name La Tâche could also be used for wines from the main part of Les Gaudchots6.
In 1931 Comtesse Liger-Belair passed away leaving the estate to her ten children. Two of the ten children were minors and the law of that era required that all children must be of age in order to distribute the inheritance or the estate must be sold 9.
Three of the family members did not want to wait until the younger children reached legal adulthood and insisted that the entirety of the domaine be put up for sale. On August 31st, 1933 at the town hall of Vosne Romanée the vineyards including La Tache were auctioned off 9.
At this auction Edmond-Gaudin de Villaine acquired the La Tâche Joly de Bévy and then merged this vineyard with the holdings of Les Gaudichot to form the vineyard today known as La Tâche6.
This was the end of the Liger-Belair ownership and the beginning of the new La Tâche and the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti era of La Tâche.
The first expansion of La Tâche
In the bien national documents La Tâche was listed with a area of 34 Ouvrées6 equivalent to 1.42 ha. In Lavalle1 1855 the area was listed as 1 ha 40 ares and 5 cent – the same area was mentioned by Rodier2 in 1920. The current area of the plot La Tâche Joy de Bévy is however 1,43 ha 6.
According to Allen Meadows6 the Liger-Belair family acquired a very small plot – 0.027 ha – from the Groffier family. This plot was included in La Tâche Joly de Bévy expanding the vineyard to 1.43 ha. The plot could either be from Les Gaudichots or Aux Malconsorts … or in theory a plot of La Tâche outside the Joly de Bévy climate.
Looking at the old cadastre maps from 1827 there are one clear deviation from the current maps – the border towards Aux Malconsort and the very southern part of Les Gaudichots – the plot now belonging to Domaine Dujac. On the current cadastre map Les Gaudichots does not continue down slope south of the La Tâche Joly de Bévy section, the Dujac plot stops just above the section. This indicate that there has been an adjustment of the borders between La Tâche Joly de Bévy, Aux Malconsort and the southern part of Les Gaudichots. The small expansion to 1.43 ha could well be a result of this minor adjustment. The added area could then come from both Les Gaudichots and or Aux Malconsorts.
Gathering the plots of Les Gaudichots
During the last part of the 19th century the predecessors and ancestors of the de Villaine family – Duvault-Blochet and Chambon – acquired large parts of the Gaudichots vineyard, and Jacques Chambon is mentioned as one of the principal owners by Rodier in 1920.
Some sources6 say that these plots were acqured already in 1834, 1839, 1859, 1862 and 1866 – but Lavalle doesn’t mention Duvault as one of the principal owners in 1855. Other sources mention that Duvault-Blochet acquired a large plot from M. Morellet in 1862 and in 1866 a southern plot from M. Lausseure 8.
Based on this it’s likely that Duvault-Blochet acquired most of the Gaudichots plots after 1855. These plots are today included in Domaine de la Romanee-Conti monopole La Tâche.
Owners of Les Gaudichots in 1892 according to Danguy & Aubertin3:
- M. Dr. Chanut
- M. le Comte Liger-Belair
According to Danguy and Aubertin3 there were two owners on La Tâche in 1892 – MM. les heriteres Duvault and M. le comte Liger-Belair. This was of course not the case, but it shows that Les Gaudichots – or at least the Duvault plots on Les Gaudichots were considered a part of La Tâche by the authors.
Continuing to Rodier2 1920 – he mentioned the following owners of Les Gaudichots (5 ha 79 ares 65 cents):
- J. Chambon
- de Champeaux
La Tâche Joly de Bévy (1 ha 40 ares 5 cent) was according to Rodier2 owned 100% by Liger-Belair i 1920 – and DRC (J. Chambon) is only mentioned as owner om Les Gaudichots. It’s quite strange that Liger-Belair is not mentioned as a owner of Les Gaudichots in 1920, as it it’s mentioned by Meadows that they sold of plots of Les Gaudichots in 1934 and 1935 – to DRC and Thomas-Moillard (the Dujac plot)6.
The explanation is however straightforward as de Champeaux was a part of the Liger-Belair family. Louis Charles Liger-Belair and Ludovie Marey had two children – Edgar Bocquillon Liger-Belair (1835 – 1915) and Cécile Bocquillon Liger-Belair (1843 – 1876)10. Cécile Bocquillon Liger-Belair was married to Joseph de Champeaux de Saucy also in 186310 – and this is how the Champeaux name entered the ownership history of Les Gaudichots.
Bottom line before Edmond-Gaudin Villaine acquired La Tâche Joly de Bévy, he and his ancestors had assembled a large plot on Les Gaudichots, and with the court ruling in 1932 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti was in a position to sell the wines from these plots as La Tâche.
The second expansion of La Tâche
After Edmond-Gaudin Villaine acquired La Tâche Joly de Bévy in 1933 it was possible to expand La Tache quite dramatically, by merging the DRC holdings in Les Gaudichots with the newly acquired La Tâche Joly de Bévy. The result was a 6.06 ha large vineyard with the legal rights to sell the wines under the La Tâche name.
There are officially still two parts of La Tâche – the original part called La Tâche (1,43 ha), and the Gaudichot part called Les Gaudichot ou La Tâche (4.63ha) – see map below
In 1936 the two parts of La Tâche was declared Grand Cru, while the remaining 1.03 ha of Les Gaudichot was declared 1er cru – except a small plot in the bottom of the vineyard that was demoted to village level.
The quality and style of the old and the new La Tâche
The expansion of La Tâche in 1933 created a new wine, and while no one today doubt the quality of the La Tâche produced by Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, its most certainly different than a wine produced only on the La Tâche Joly de Bevy part of La Tache.
Firstly the Les Gaudichot ou La Tâche is the dominant part of todays wine, and while the lower part of this climate could resemble the terroir of La Tâche Joly de Bévy, it is clear that the geology is quite different higher up the slope.
La Tâche Joly de Bévy was indeed higher regarded than Les Gaudichots by Lavalle1 but it seems like Lavalle and other writers at that time favored the richer and bigger wines lower on the slope. This could also explain why Clos de Vougeot was ranked as one of the very best terroirs by Lavalle.
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