Grands Echzeaux is one of the more prominent grand crus which sits just below the very top tier – meaning Romanee-Conti, La Romanée, La Tâche, Richebourg, Romanée Saint-Vivant, and Musigny.
It is a brilliant terroir, and is perhaps even a bit overlooked, although new producer names in this vineyard have led to increased consumer focus on Grands Echézeaux.
Does Grands Echézeaux match the mighty Chambertin or its sister Chambertin Clos de Beze? In my view, yes; it is generally more hedonistic, and boasts tremendous longevity.
And now Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair will get its chance to challenge the top producers of Grands Echézeaux.
The Vosne-Romanée estate will expand this year, with 2.65 hectares of new plots in prominent vineyards, including its first plots in Grands Echézeaux (0.3007 hectare), Vosne-Romanée Aux Malconsorts, La Croix Rameau, and Aux Reas. Furthermore, it is adding to its existing plots in Clos de Vougeot, Echézeaux, and Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots.
Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair has the opportunity to take over these exciting new vineyards because Nathalie Pacareau (Lamarche), previously of Domaine Lamarche, has decided to create a partnership for her vines with Louis-Michel Liger-Belair on a long-term contract.
The Grands Echézeaux climat and location
The Grands Echézeaux vineyard is located just above the Clos de Vougeot, below the core climats of Echézeaux – Les Poulailleres and Echézeaux du Dessus.
The total area of Grands Echézeaux is 9.14 ha, of which Domaine de la Romanee-Conti owns 3.53 ha – equivalent to almost 40% of the vineyard.
Today’s other owners are the following:
- Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret – 1.4440 ha
- Domaine Thenard – 0.54 ha
- Domaine d’Eugenie – 0.50 ha
- Maison Joseph Drouhin – 0.47 ha
- Maison Henri de Villamont – 0.43 ha
- Domaine Gros Frère et Soeur – 0.3662 ha
- Domaine Desaunay-Bissey- 0.34 ha
- Domaine du Comte Liger-Belair – 0.3007 ha
- Domaine Georges Noëllat – 0.30 ha
- Domaine Clos Frantin – 0.25 ha
- Domaine Jean-Marc-Millot – 0.2015 ha
- Domaine Coquard-Loison-Fleurot – 0.1755 ha
- Domaine Robert Sirugue – 0.12 ha
The early ownership history of Grands Echézeaux
As with many other vineyards in the area, Grands Echézeaux was for decades owned by the Abbey of Citeaux. But it was not (unlike the Clos de Vougeot) considered part of the post-Revolutionary national assets (biens nationaux), as it already had private owners outside the church whose status made the vineyard ineligible for confiscation.
Echézeaux and Bas Echézeaux (now Grands Echézeaux) had a secular status (meaning private ownership) before the Revolution.
Jean-François Bazin, in his 1994 book “Romanée-Conti,” states that the influential Marey family already owned a part of Grands Echézeaux at the time of the Revolution.
Transactions from that time are very complex, so let’s see what Bazin says:
“Unlike the Clos de Vougeot, which was kept as a direct tenant of the abbey, the Echézeaux de Cîteaux sector was, from the 18th century – and probably well before that – transferred to civilian ownership under perpetual leases. These recognize that the tenants own the right to exploit the property, its operations, its transmission, subject to payment of perpetual royalties, among other terms. By the eve of the Revolution therefore, Cîteaux had lost control of its Echézeaux vineyard. The Mareys, a familial dynasty at the time, had settled in Vosne-Romanée to expand its viticultural patrimony. As the sale of national assets directly concerned the lands exploited by the abbey, and not those passed into other hands by leases, those plots remained in the hands of the holders of those ancestral leases. »Jean-François Bazin: Romanée-Conti’ (1994)
As can be seen, the “bien national” process was not straightforward, and the confiscation of land was very complex.
It’s confirmed by Bazin that the Marey family owned a piece of Grands Echézeaux both before and after the Revolution. If this ownership continued to 1834, when the Liger-Belair and Marey names were joined by the wedding of Louis Charles Bocquillon Liger-Belair (1802-1878) and Pierrette Ludovie Marey (1814-1875), then Liger-Belair (via the Marey family) has owned a part of Grands Echézeaux before.
The period from 1855-2021
The Liger-Belair plots come from the Lamarche estate, and that family’s ownership is at least a century old, having been documented by Rodier1 in 1920.
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