Boston Troquet’s Cellar Dregs Are Wine Lover’s Treasures

Chris Campbell

Long ago, Troquet cemented its reputation with New England wine enthusiasts as the quintessential fine dining spot in Boston to order and drink memorable wine.   Actually, it all started with Chris Campbell’s earlier Commonwealth Avenue project UVA , a laid back spot offering unassuming atmosphere, serious food, easy prices, and a wine program that brought together the finest, and often most allocated, wines in the world at prices just north of wholesale.  Every wino, sommelier, and foodie beat regular paths to Chris’ Brookline Land of Oz.

In case you needed another nudge to get out and visit the newer version of Boston’s ultimate wino restaurant, then simply note that on July 6 Campbell started rolling out end-bins and single bottles from deep in his classically rich cellar for sale at unheard of inventory clearing price points.  He will keep this up until the wines are all gone, and if you consider that our group of four serious food and wine writers and photographers consumed eight bottles from the clearance table, I do not advise even a modicum of procrastination.

I showed up two hours late for dinner after a thirteen hour flight home from Kansas City due to mechanical delays on two Delta aircraft that should both be put to rest with the rest of Chris’ wines.  My group was deep into their menu, leaving me only suckling pig, duck, cheese, and over the top desserts as backdrop for the multiple glasses of wines patiently waiting for me at my yet-unoccupied seat at the table.  I fixed my stare, nose, and palate on five reds, one rose, and one white and began a series of bad guesses without even nailing one wine.  Still, I was satisfied since the characteristics I was detecting made sense to me once the wines were revealed.  The experience was orderly and educational enough for me.  I easily forgive myself for incorrect blind guesses, convinced that nailing wines is often nothing more than a parlor trick.

On this evening there were about forty wines out on display for diners to pick from and bring back to their table to be uncorked.  I saw one or two wines that were priced at $80, but not one single wine we picked cost more than $30!  Here are the wines our group knocked off:

2008 Domaine de Fontsainte Corbieres Gris de Gris Rose

1983 Meursault Perrieres Pierre Morey

1970 Concha Y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon

1975 Lungarotti Rubesco Riserva Monticchio Torgiano

1983 Porta Dos Cavaleiros Reserva Dao

1998 Domaine La Bouissiere Gigondas

1997 Kongsgaard Napa Valley Merlot

2004 Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Spatlese Riesling

The Corbieres was losing its stuffing and was a bit flabby, but all the other wines were in great shape.  The Morey Meursault was my second favorite wine of the evening, showing richness and acidity in its dark yellow juice that belied its age.  This wine can keep on going.  It had a little boytritis-like aroma on the nose to mix in with its developing secondary flavoring.  My favorite wine was the 1970 Chilean Cab.  Where can you find a 1970 Chilean Cab on a wine list for under $30, or at any price?  I guessed this wine to be an old Bordeaux, and it really performed just like that.  The wine had classic cedar, currant, and cassis aromas and flavors.  The wine held up beautifully and it was a treat to taste.  Every other wine was equally as thrilling, except for maybe the Gigondas which seemed to be more shut down and not as approachable.  The 1975 Lungoratti from Umbria was at least one other person’s favorite, a silky and sexy treat at $20.  The ’83 Portuguese wine was fantastic and showed like an old Southern Rhone or Mourvedre from the Languedoc, and a total departure (I picked it off the table to inject some new world into the evening experience) was the 1997 Kongsgaard Merlot.  I had many occasion to drink their Chardonnays, but never Merlot.  Pouring blind for my dinner group, they all nailed its new world roots.  This wine was truly amazing, rising to one of the handful of excellent California Merlots, as it evolved in the glass to take on tobacco and cedar aromas alongside the sweet floral scents that originally mixed with the rich black fruit.  This is a monumental wine, and while it was a departure from the older wines we were drinking it was a head-turner nonetheless.

What are you waiting for?  While Troquet is a value in world class dining and drinking on any given night, this clearance event is producing wines that are not regularly seen on the list and everything is offered at 1982 era prices.  Look for me if you go, I just might find a way to slip back into town for a few more shots at the clearance table before the cellar is clean.  Here is the notice from Troquet’s website:

What’s New at Troquet

Summer 2010

Attention oenophiles: Troquet’s wine cellar needs a good clean sweep in order to make room for new inventory. Beginning July 8 and continuing until we’ve sold out, Troquet will be selling vintage bin ends and single bottles at shockingly low prices (some as low as $10). Dozens of top labels will be brought up from the cellar every day, so plan to stop by in July and see what kind of bargain you can score. Please note that all wine must be consumed on the premises with a meal. No holds. No retail sales. No by-the-glass. No take away. Play by these simple rules and you’ll score big! We highly recommend reservations from July 8-30.

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