Aubert de Villaine: Domaine de la Romanée Conti

The Co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Aubert de Villaine, tells us about wine, music and about his involvement with Burgundy’s Unesco bid.

In the 1960’s, Aubert de Villaine went to America to write about Californian wine. He wrote articles for La Revue du Vin de France, as at this time, nobody knew that wine was made in California. It was the very beginning of a new world! At that time, he interviewed Bob Mondavi, a passionate and ambitious person who had absolutely no idea about what would become the wine industry over there. He saw only two wineries trying to make good wines, while the rest were making ordinary wine without having any idea regarding quality.

Aubert de Villaine wanted to become a teacher of literature or philosophy.
He joined the estate of DRC in 1974. From 1880 to 1950, Burgundy was miserable, the region got hit by phylloxera, then arrived the World War one, the crisis in 1919, and after that, the World War two. The market became better after the 1950’s. People started to think about producing more, without caring about quality. In 1974, Aubert became conscious about the notion of quality, and he started to work on it little by little.
Today, he thinks the estate of DRC has not reached its full potential yet, and it will never! For Aubert, the most important thing is the vineyard. It is essential to select every year new mother vines, with the specific quality required. Aubert de Villaine started 25 years ago, and he’s still producing, trying to progress more and more.
In the 1990’s, he decided to plant 14,000 vines per hectare, but the result was not successful. The idea was to increase the density forcing the roots to dig deeper into the soil, in order to produce less wine, but a better quality. It did not work as he expected.
Aubert decided to experiment biodynamics for some time. He realized it was the best way to get as close to the vineyard as possible, and for the vines to be in harmony with nature.
In 2009, after the death of the family Merode ‘s parents, he decided to work with their vineyard – DRC Corton – as the children were not able to continue the exploitation. The Corton is currently a blend of 3 grands crus vineyards. Within 10 to 15 years, after finishing the grafting, the three grands crus will be bottled separately.
Aubert de Villaine decided to get involved in the Unesco project as he has learned over the years that Burgundy was a very special and very interesting region, a unique place in the world.
And the second reason was to give a chance to the Burgundy population, especially the vignerons, to become couscious of the potential of their region, unique in the world, in order to pass it on to the next generations.
For the past seven years, Aubert de Villaine has been spending half of his time on the Unesco bid. He manages the Domaine of Romanée Conti, and he is organizing the Clos de Vougeot music festival. What a great man!

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