Conference Preview: Romanée-Conti Anyone?



Today we have a conference preview from Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE, who tells us about his upcoming session, ““Exploring the Backroads of the Cote d’Or (Part 2),” to be presented as part of the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, to be held August  10 to 12, 2017, in Portland, Oregon.

When is the last time you had a glass of Romanée-Conti?  When is the next time you will have a glass?  For most of us, those are easy answers—NEVER!

Burgundy’s crown jewel unfortunately is affordable only to the rich and famous, and that leaves most of us out.  At $12,000 a bottle for recent releases, Romanée-Conti is slightly outside my budget.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t regularly satisfy my addiction to fine Burgundy wines, both reds and whites.  The secret is to seek out less famous and less glamorous appellations, or as we have phrased it, “explore the backroads of La Côte d’Or.”



At this year’s SWE Annual Conference, we will continue this exploration by delving into the Côte de Beaune.  Specifically, we will visit the villages of Monthélie, Auxey-Duresses, St-Aubin, and Santenay.  Each of these villages produces wines that are extremely popular among the locals—and these are the folks who know where true value lies in the current sea of elevated prices that affects today’s Côte d’Or wine market.

While these four villages do not boast of any grand cru sites, they are blessed with abundant premier cru and village-level vineyard acreage.  Perhaps you already know a bit about them.  Can you identify which village is the correct answer to the following questions?

Test Your Knowledge! !

  1. Its white wines are often referred to as “junior Meursault”
  2. It is the home of a special pinot noir clone and a leader in Cordon de Royat vine training.
  3. 76% of its wine production is premier cru.
  4. Its best premiers crus are extensions of Volnay-Caillerets and Volnay Clos des Chènes.


(The answers are at the end of this article)

During my session at the SWE Conference, you will learn the answers to these questions and much more—particularly just what it is that makes the wines of these villages worth seeking out.  Because of their relative obscurity compared to the “big names”, their distribution is limited in the United States.  However, thanks to the internet and on-line shopping, access is possible, unless you live in a state with prehistoric wine laws.

Here are a few village factoids to whet your appetite and impress your friends.

  • Monthélie is the smallest producer of the 4 villages, producing 49,000 cases annually, with 87% of that being red wine.
  • Auxey-Duresses produces 57,000 cases and has one third white wine and two thirds red wine.  It is also the home village of the prestigious Domaine Leroy.
  • St-Aubin has an annual wine production of 82,000 cases, with 77% being white wine.  It is the 4th largest white wine producing village in La Côte d’Or.
  • Santenay produces 140,000 cases of wine annually, with 82% being red wine.  This production gives it the #6 ranking in wine production among all La Côte d’Or villages.  It also is the home of Burgundy’s only casino.


With all of this information, you already know more about these villages than 99% of your wine geek friends.  Now all that remains is to attend the session, learn even more, and, most importantly, taste the 7 wines from these appellations.  See you there.

Answers to quiz questions:

  1. Auxey-Duresses
  2. #2: Santenay
  3. #3: St-Aubin
  4. #4: Monthélie


About the speaker, Don Kinnan, CSS, CWE: For 35 years, Don Kinnan has been engaged in the fine wine trade and for most of that period has been an active member of the SWE.  He was the co-chair of the society’s CSW-founding committee and is currently serving on the SWE Board of Directors. Don spent 20 years as Director of Corporate Education for a major fine wine importer and is presently the Burgundy Specialist and Lead Instructor of the Wine Scholar Guild’s Master Burgundy Certificate program.

Don’s session, “Exploring the Backroads of the Cote d’Or (Part 2)” will be presented on Saturday, August 12th at 3:00 pm, as part of the 41st Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators, to be held August  10 to 12, 2017, in Portland, Oregon.

Photo credits: Don Kinnan; photo of Don Kinnan by Tenley Fohl Photography.

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