Superstar Noir

SCARCITY BREEDS FRANTIC DEMAND FOR A RARE PINOT NOIR. BUT ONCE YOU’VE GOTTEN YOUR HANDS ON A BOTTLE—WHAT TO EAT WITH IT? WHAT PAIRING BECOMES A LEGEND MOST?

The wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, or D.R.C. as it’s known in sommeliers’ parlance, are superstars, among the most sought after on the planet. The estate produces Pinot Noirs and a Chardonnay widely considered to be some of the world’s finest — and, it follows, most expensive. D.R.C. is the only house in Burgundy to produce wine solely from Grand Cru vineyard parcels, and its wines’ value accrues nearly daily. They are incredibly long-lived.

The Romanée-Conti is one of D.R.C.’s two “monopoles”— the other being La Tâche—meaning that only the family controlling the domaine owns vines in these vineyards. Vineyard history dates back to 1232. Centuries of bidding wars (and actual wars, including the French Revolution), acquisitions, and transfers led to the modern holdings co-owned by Aubert de Villaine and Henri Frédéric Roch.

The flagship Romanée-Conti monopole produces an average of just 450 cases per vintage, the smallest yield by far of the Pinot Noir producing vineyards. Compounding these tiny production numbers are challenges from Mother Nature in the form of late frost, freak hailstorms, and other weather-borne tragedies which, in the case of the pictured 2013 vintage, meant that an already tiny yield dropped precipitously. Scarcity translates to insane demand. “I sometimes used the words fight or adversity,” de Villaine has said. “No year more than 2013 deserves to be described in this manner.” He reported a yield of just 18 hectolitres/hectare from Romanée-Conti, with fewer than 200 cases of this wine produced.

With a wine this special, you shouldn’t overdo it with the food pairing. While this wine won’t be in its prime until sometime between 2024 and 2040, we suggest that when the time comes to finally pull the cork, you go for simplicity. Maybe complEment the bottle with a couple of carnitas tacos from La Fondita, the Mexican cantina in Amagansett. The savory, fatty, flavors of the pork will highlight the complex black-cherry and floral notes in the glass. And at $3.50 a pop for a tasty taco, they won’t add extra stress to your poor, sore wallet.

 

2013 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti, $13,500. Available at Wainscott Main Wine and Spirits, 354 Montauk Highway, Wainscott, 631-537-2800, wainscottmain.com. Photograph by New York 90 Photography, ny90mi.com.

Nina Channing

Our associate editor at EAST, Nina has written this year about land preservation, Montauk ghost stories, and Trump helicopters. Born and raised in Bridgehampton, she graduated from Wesleyan University in 2016 and is now an MFA candidate at Stony Brook Southampton. When she’s not working, she can be found driving to the beach in her Volvo station wagon with her dog, Tucker, riding shotgun.