2941 may have transitioned to a more casual menu about a year ago, but that doesn't mean the restaurant is lacking in the really high-end wines it has always served to connoisseur customers. It just means those wines get ordered less frequently, according to Jonathan Schuyler. The sommelier walked Eater through some of the most rare and expensive wines found on the restaurant's reserve list, and talked about who actually orders them.
The restaurant has a separate reserve list that essentially is organized by price, explained Schuyler. That lists includes many in the $200-250 range, but also offerings that reach as high as $800 or $1,000.
One of those $1,000ish bottles is the 1990 Mersault Clos des Perrieres from renowned winemaker Albert Grivault. The winemaker owns the entirety of his vineyard, which is unusual in the region because most have been split up among various family members over the century. "Optimally it's as delicious a wine as you're going to get," he said. "This wine is incredibly special." The restaurant has sold a few bottles of it, including to one guest who was hosting a special event. Schuyler put together a series of very old whites for the customer, including the bottle, for which he charged them cost for the wines.
Most of the expensive wines on 2941's lists are in the $300-$600 range, and they specialize in old Bordeaux wines and old Burgundy wines, and carry some vintage champagne offerings as well.
Another high-end wine Schuyler was excited to pour was a 2004 Domaine Dujac Morey St. Denis, priced at around $350. "Texturally, it's just about as perfect as anyone could imagine," Schuyler said of the burgundy wine. He poured it for a guest who offered the sommelier a taste, and a debate broke out at the table over whether the wine was any good — not in good condition, but whether the wine was successful.
"At some point, there's a real diminishing return on how much money you can spend, because you can get very yummy wine for relatively reasonable prices," said Schuyler. "When you're getting into prices like this, there's an art part that comes with it. This wine was clearly delicious, and clearly well-made, but that's not where the debate was going. There are more esoteric questions and discussing that becomes art and art appreciation."
Many of the people who order such wines are real experts. Some are just high-rollers. "There are people who have come in and just asked for the most expensive wine on the list and ordered it," said Schuyler. "That has happened repeatedly. Which you know, if it makes them happy, it makes them happy." But to really understand wine, Schuyler says people should be drinking a wide range of everything they can get their hands on, so they can identify what makes such outlier bottles special.
The sommelier just returned from a tasting trip to the Burgundy region earlier this month. The season had very low yields, with some producers down 60 percent. "It's really exciting," said Scuyler of his tasting trip, though he expects his staff will soon tire of hearing him go on and on about the wines of the region.
Before 2941's renovation, its wine list was almost entirely focused on high-end wines. "There was nothing under $100," he said. "Now we still have a lot of those bottles, but it doesn't represent our business as much anymore."
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