Born in 1922, the late Henri Jayer began to lease vines "en metayage" in Vosne-Romanée's Richebourg vineyard from the Noirot-Camuzet family. This sharecropping system meant that Jayer tended the vines and gave half of the fruit harvested back to the owners as payment.
The lease continued until 1987, which was the last year that Henri Jayer made Richebourg under his own label. The rarity of the product is certainly a factor in the stratospheric price.
In the intervening period, Jayer had purchased land around Vosne Romanée, including a vegetable patch which at that time was planted with Jerusalem artichokes. This parcel of land had formerly been the Cros Parantoux vineyard and the artichokes soon made way for vines. The plot was restored to its pre-phylloxera glory and became a premier cru vineyard in 1953. Today, its wines sell at an average of $5,436 per bottle – making it the world’s third most expensive wine, according to the Wine-Searcher database.
Jayer did not bottle all of his own wines until 1978, which means that wine lovers can find négociant bottlings of some vintages. This extraordinary winemaker retired in 1996, when his nephew, Emmanuel Rouget, took control of the domaine. However, Jayer continued to make wine for Rouget until 2001. He died five years later, aged 84. His wines continue to age gracefully.