Generally, I am able to write some pretty complete reviews of restaurant wine lists, but as Michael Madrigale reveals in his telling interview with Levi Dalton, Bar Boulud’s list doesn’t tell the whole story.

Not only are there bottles in the cellar that don’t make the list, the star of the nightly offerings at Bar Boulud is the big bottle by the glass pour. These offerings from magnums and larger bottles must be one of the great deals in New York City. Michael reveals why in the interview and my rundown of recent pours will help to flesh out the story here.

And what is that story? It’s really that Bar Boulud’s list is surprisingly small, though notice I did not say limited, because it is well focused as well. In a way, this is refreshing. Not finding a tome to deal with makes ordering wine less intrusive and a decidedly more manageable task.

As always, I’ve looked at the Bar Boulud wine list with an eye towards sussing out values, keeping in mind that while many people here in New York consider it to be a neighborhood restaurant, it’s a destination and a splurge for many. Finding affordable options on the wine list simply ensures that anyone can have a great time at Bar Boulud, so that’s my goal!

The first feature of the menu places an emphasis on variety and value. The flights of three (red, white and for cheese) really make ordering and exploring wines easy, and at $25 or less a flight, it is very affordable. I’m sure that these wines, and the pricing, change with regularity, but let me just say that today’s selections are great and I would be very tempted to just skip reading the list and buy a flight of three to accompany each of my courses!

For reference today’s wines are:

Vin Blanc
Argyros Atlantis Assyrtiko
Salomon Hochterrassen Gruner Veltliner
Domaine Grippa St. Joseph Blanc

Vin Rouge

J Drouhin Gevrey Chambertin
Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo
Chad Lake County Cabernet Sauvignon

Vin Pour le Fromage

Lustau Jarana Light Fino Sherry
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port
Ch. D’Arche-Pugneau Sauternes
All of these wines are also available by the glass and taste which makes mixing and matching wines with your meal at Bar Boulud a lot of fun.

Moving on through the list, we begin as usual with a selection of sparkling wines. Though these are tending towards the upper end of quality and price levels, there is the Domaine Jacky Blot Montluis Triple Zero available for $59, a great start to any meal.

Moving onto the whites, I find that the structure of the list, broken down as explained in the quote above, translates into a rough price guide in many instances and helps keep my eyes from spending too much time ogling most of the Ramonets and Musignies. What I do find in white Burgundy is a very well thought out selection with enticing options at basically every price point, from the very well priced to the extravagant.

Additional white wines hail from the South of France and Rhone regions, of which I am not particularly a fan, as well as the New World. Chardonnay remains king on this list and there are some interesting options from outside of France, including the Bedell Corey Creek from the North Fork of Long Island ($50). What really caught my eye was the 1979 Stoney Creek Napa Valley Chardonnay, which at $150 a bottle, might cause me to bust my budget! Coming back down to earth, additional white wine options include the 2010 Domaine du Carrou Sancerre ($60) and the 2006 Foureau Vouvray Sec ($60 - Yay!).

The list begins with a strong selection of Red Burgundy. While many are well priced, they are of a class that keeps them above our price point, though the selection of Beaujolais, the airy 2010 Pacalet Chenas ($59), more visceral 2010 Vissoux Moulin a Vent Les Trois Roches ($70) and delightful 2009 Michel Lafarge Passetougrain L’Exception ($60), keep something Burgundian as an option.

Additional Pinot Noir options appear on the Les Cousin section of the list and three stand out. The 2009 Soter North Valley ($79), the 2009 Wind Gap Sonoma coast ($85), and the 2009 Evening Land Blue Label ($99).  Along with Wind Gap, Evening Land is one of the current darlings of the wine scene. Speaking of Wind Gap, their 2008 Sonoma Coast Syrah is also available ($89) and that’s a wine I would happily buy!

The wines of the South of France are well represented on the list with several appealing options, though truth be told, I would immediately order the 2000 Le Galantin Bandol Longue Gard ($89) and be done with it! If Mourvedre is not your thing, check out the classic 2008 Coudoulet de Beaucastel ($75) or the 2008 Domaine du Cayron Gigondas ($75).

The Coups de Coeur section for reds is especially rich with lovely wines and I am immediately tempted by the 2010 Baudry Chinon Les Granges ($50) and the 2007 Adega Algueira Ribeira Sacra ($89). These two are wonderfully food friendly options that are also attractively affordable.

To cap off your meal, you might be tempted by the Flight of Three for cheese, though there is a fine little list of dessert wines. Many of these would be a treat.

The bottom line on Bar Boulud is that anybody can drink well and you will not be relegated to minor wines or producers. There are some pretty great wines to be had off this list for less than a C-note.

One last thing, the big bottle nightly pour is one of the distinctive and defining elements of the wine program at Bar Boulud. For more information on this far out idea, check out Levi Dalton’s recent interview with Michael Madrigale. Some of the wines recently featured in Michael’s Twitter feed (@MikeMadrigale) include 1993 Riesling Clos St Urbain, Zind-Humbrecht, 1997 Jadot Clos de la Roche, and 2000 Clape Cornas. Finding these wines in magnum is a treat, but being able to enjoy a glass or two at truly accessible pricing is reason enough to plan a visit to Bar Boulud!

Bar Boulud
1900 Broadway 
New York, NY 10023-7004
(212) 595-0303