ROBBY YOUNES has my dream job, the ultimate gig for anyone who fantasizes about opening century-old bottles of Bordeaux and other rarities affordable only to Hollywood stars and hedge fund moguls.
As the wine director at Crystal Springs Resort, Younes presides over one of the world’s most remarkable wine cellars. The cellar itself is an architectural marvel, encompassing nine interconnected chambers totaling more than 6,000 square feet dug into the side of a mountain in the Sussex County borough of Hamburg (adjacent to the Mountain Creek ski resort).
During a recent tour of the cellar, Younes led me down a dimly lit passageway, constructed of local stone and dark wood molding, to a large window showcasing the first temperature-controlled chamber. “This whole room is Montrachet,” he said.
As I peered in, my jaw dropped at the sight of dozens of bottles of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Montrachet — perhaps the rarest white wine on the planet. It’s extraordinary enough to find a single vintage of DRC Montrachet on a restaurant wine list. But here were 23 vintages going back to 1969, available from $4,000 to $10,500 a bottle.
“Do you ever sell these bottles?” I asked naively.
“Oh, we sell them,” Younes said, recalling the time when a group of Chinese businessmen flew literally halfway around the world in a private jet to sample the cellar’s treasures.
Before the tour was over, I visited one chamber after another stocked floor to ceiling with wines I’d read about over the years but had never actually seen, much less tasted. There was, for example, a perfect “vertical” of Screaming Eagle, the most cultish of all California “cult cabernets.” I couldn’t recall ever seeing Screaming Eagle on a wine list before and yet here was every vintage going back to 1992. The price for the latter: $7,000.