If Les Grandes Ruchottes and La Grande Montagne are wines borne of the air (aérien as the French might say), then La Romanée is a wine of the bedrock. This famous site is so named, according to local lore, because it was the Romans who first planted vines here. Widely (and probably rightly) considered to be the finest 1er Cru vineyard in Chassagne, La Romanée is located high on the slope and is a sunny site that sees little wind. The soils here are very, very rocky—especially where the Pillot vines are located, at the very top of the terroir. This combination of altitude, rocky, limestone-rich soils (with next to no topsoil) and the sunny aspect delivers the holy grail of both deep minerality and concentration, the kind of combination normally reserved for Grand Crus.
This part of La Romanée is often the last vineyard to ripen in Chassagne, perhaps because of the altitude but also because the lack of topsoil makes the vines struggle hard. Just to point to the complexity of Burgundy and the pure folly of trying to simplify things—Vincent Dancer, whose La Romanée vines sit at the foot of this same vineyard, often picks this vineyard first while the Pillots typically pick their La Romanée last! Yet both wines have similar ripeness! The 2018 is, as always the deepest wine in the range and also the most tightly wound. You can think of it as Thierry Pillot’s ‘Grand Cru’—the finest terroir of the Domaine. As is the case with the entire range, it is a terroir that has seriously delivered in 2018. “Brilliant stuff” indeed.
“If any of Thierry Pillot's Premiers Crus are of Grand Cru quality, this is it in most vintages, including 2018. Made from 70-year-old vines planted on soils that are stony and very poor, it's an intense, focused, chiselled wine with chalky, wet stone aromas, leesy concentration, stylish 12% new wood and a long, tangy, mouthwatering finish. Brilliant stuff from one of the best young winemakers in the Côte de Beaune.” 96 points, Tim Atkin MW, Decanter.
“One wine that has the potential to surpass its 2017 counterpart is Pillot's 2018 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru La Romanée, a stunning cuvée that soars from the glass with scents of pear, clear honey, iodine and warm pastry. Medium to full-bodied, satiny and enveloping, it's concentrated and racy, with a layered core and a long, precise finish. This will be worth a special effort to seek out.” 94-96 points, William Kelley, The Wine Advocate.
“Very old vines here, Thierry’s favourite especially for ageing. The colour is pale and the bouquet backward but clearly hiding concentration. There is a density here over and above all the others. No deeper in alcohol but this is powerful stuff which will develop greater elegance as time goes by. I see why this is Thierry’s favourite! 5 stars.” 94-97 points, Jasper Morris, Inside Burgundy.