Aubert de Villaine, co-director of Burgundy’s prized Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, is priming his nephew to take over the estate in the near future.
Aubert de Villaine
Speaking to db during the 2013 trade tasting of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at Corney & Barrow’s London offices today, de Villaine said:
“I’m still kicking as the Americans say, but I’m training up my nephew, Bertrand de Villaine, who I hope will be able to take my place in a few years.”
With a case of Romanée-Conti 1990 recently selling for HK$1.5m at auction in Hong Kong, de Villaine admitted that the “extravagant” prices his wines sell for “bothers” him.
Romanée-Conti and La Tâche 2013
“It bothers me a lot that my wines are traded as a commodity and not enjoyed by wine lovers. It doesn’t make me happy. I try to control the distribution of the wines as much as I can so that we sell them to people who will keep them in their cellar and drink them.
“I ask all of our distributors to help me. They are less importers and more gatekeepers,” he said, adding, “I do my best to keep the prices at a high level but still affordable to amateur wine lovers and conoissuers with some means.”
As for the outcome of the Rudy Kurniawan case, in which he testified, de Villaine said he hopes it sends a stark warning out to aspiring wine counterfeiters.
“It’s difficult to speak of being satisfied with regards to someone being sent to prison for 10 years, but I’m very happy that the case came out and people now understand that you can’t make fake wines without there being consequences,” he told db.
“It’s hard to know how many fake wines are still out there, but there was an important court case in Europe recently regarding fake Domaine de la Romanée-Conti that ended in several people going to prison. I haven’t heard much from this little mafia since then,” he added.
Speaking about Burgundy recently being added to the UNESCO world heritage list, de Villaine described the nine-year process as “very long but rewarding”.
“I hope it will make the winemakers realise that in Burgundy they have something precious. I’ve passed on my presidency to a friend of mine,” he said.
“The UNESCO heritage will hopefully make tourists more interested in the vineyards and the landscape, which will help them understand the true character of Burgundy,” he added.
As for future plans, de Villaine said he’d love to make Musigny if the opportunity arose.