Aubert de Villaine was officially crowned as Decanter’s 2010 Man of the Year at a star-studded dinner in London last night.
De Villaine has been the director of Burgundy’s legendary Domaine de la Romanée-Conti since 1974, having started working there ten years previously. He is also the winemaker.
The event, hosted by DRC’s UK agent, Corney & Barrow, was attended by a roll call of some of Burgundy’s greatest wine luminaries.
Among them were Lalou Bize-Leroy, Hubert and Etienne de Montille, Pierre-Henry Gagey, Frédéric Mugnier, Jacques Seysses and François Faiveley.
Other guests included Christian Moueix, Serena Sutcliffe MW of Sotheby’s, Jancis Robinson MW, Anthony Hanson MW, John Armit, Michael Broadbent MW, Jack Daniels of DRC’s US importer Wilson Daniels and Martin Gold of New York retailer Martin Scott Wines.
Sarah Kemp, Decanter’s publishing director, told de Villaine that the award had been made for his leadership role in Burgundy.
‘You represent all that we admire in Burgundy. If the reputation of the region has never been higher it is to you that we must give a great deal of thanks.’
She went on to hail de Villaine’s ‘integrity, devotion to the land and unceasing quest for quality’, through which ‘you have inspired us, you have inspired your neighbours’.
‘You are the father of modern Burgundy, but a Burgundy that has not followed modern fashions or global commercial expediency and a Burgundy that is a byword for artisanship, terroir and authenticity,’ she said.
On receiving the award – an engraved Decanter – de Villaine joked that he never decanted his wines, before going on to pay tribute to his Burgundian counterparts.
‘I want to share this award with you,’ he said. ‘If Burgundy is doing well today, and quality is higher than ever, it is because of our return to the values that made it famous – the values of terroir.
‘Thirty years ago, terroir was disregarded. Today it is seen as a goal by wine regions across the world.’
Wines enjoyed by the guests included DRC’s Le Montrachet 2003, La Tâche 1991, Fine de Bourgogne 1991 and Romanée-Conti 1971, Fonseca 1963 and Salon Le Mesnil 1997 (in magnum).
Bordeaux 2009: All the coverage
Written by Guy Woodward