Francois Lamarche, La Grande Rue, Cuvee 59 2014 (1.5L)
in Individual Original Wooden Coffret
96 points Allen Meadows, Burghound
**Note: 2 barrels were produced from vines in Les Gaudichots planted in 1933 and aged in CAVIN Aphrodite barrels that are made from 300 year old oak trees sourced in the Fontainebleau forest**
While compositionally similar to the regular cuvée, the wood treatment is a bit more subtle and the aromas are distinctly more reserved. The strikingly rich, intense and concentrated flavors possess not only a bit more underlying tension but also notably more minerality on the explosively long and sappy finish. Moreover this is markedly firmer yet the grain of the tannins is even finer. This is a stunningly great effort but note well that if you're lucky enough to find a bottle or two that the wine is absolutely going to require prolonged cellaring. In a word, fantastic. ( #61, Jan 2016)
95 points Neal Martin, Wine Advocate
The debut 2014 La Grande Rue "Cuvée 1959" Grand Cru comes from a small plot of vines that was exchanged with Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, so that they could complete the monopole of La Tâche as part of "remembrement" -- which basically means grouping land together. These were specifically three parcels that came to just 0.1013 hectares (plus a postage stamp of Les Gaudichots).
Nicole Lamarche was prompted to bottle it separately having found out about the exchange in Allen Meadows' "Pearl of the Côte" tome and it represents just two barrels. It has a very precise bouquet, the fruit a touch darker than the regular La Grande Rue, coveting its mineral core at first but after a few minutes it opens up gloriously. The palate has a touch more structure than the regular bottling, with dark cherries, minerals, strawberry pastille and a very intense finish that fans out gloriously. Just 600 bottles produced, though Nicole informed me that it is not a one-off and will be made henceforth. (#222, December 2015)
La Grande Rue dates to the 15th century and was held in high historical regard for the last few hundred years by various critics and institutions of those times.
Its history in the hands of the Lamarche family starts in 1933, when it was given as a wedding present to Henri Lamarche (the present owner, Nicole Lamarche’s grandfather) by his uncle Edouard. This vineyard is “sandwiched” between the vineyards of La Romanée-Conti, La Romanée and Romanée-Saint-Vivant from the north, and La Tâche from the south, and shares the geology and exposition and occupies the same position on the slope with them. There is also no obvious difference in soil color, texture or composition between La Grande Rue and its neighbor’s famed vineyards.
Prior to the mid-Thirties its wines sold as “Romanée La Grande Rue”. In 1959, Domaine Lamarche and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti decided to exchanged parcels including vines in Les Gaudichots ou La Tâche, La Grande Rue and Echézeaux. As a result, Domaine Lamarche added a net area of 8.75 ares of original vines from Les Gaudichots ou La Tâche and La Grande Rue to its existing holding of La Grande Rue. Until that exchange date, the grapes from all these parcels had been used in making La Tâche.
In the 2014 vintage Nicole Lamarche decided to make an experiment and harvest, vinify and age the grapes coming from the vines of this unique 8.03 parcel separately from the ones originating from the rest of La Grande Rue vineyard. For this special cuvée and based on the very high quality of grapes produced by these very old vines, whole clusters are being used and the fermentation takes place in stainless steel “cuves” rather than in open wooden vats. As the results of this experiment were very convincing, this practice will be followed in future vintages, with a maximum production of two barrels per vintage.