Charlie Trotter sued over alleged fake wine

charlie_trotter_wineCharlie Trotter has been sued for selling a fake wine. In the complaint, Bekim and Ilir Frrokaj allege that they contacted Trotter about purchasing a magnum of 1945 Domaine de la Romanée Conti from the restaurant’s cellar (the restaurant closed last August). They allege that Trotter told them to book a table at the restaurant and discuss it with him over dinner. On June 15, 2012 they dined at the restaurant. Here’s an excerpt from the complaint:

During dinner, Charlie Trotter and the sommelier explained the rarity and value of the DRC magnum to Benn and Ilir. Charlie Trotter and the sommelier also spoke about wines from the Domaine de la Romanee-Conti estate and how those wines are some of the rarest and most valuable in the world. A Charlie Trotter’s employee negotiated the price – $46,227.40 – with Benn and Ilir. Based on Defendants’ representation of the rarity and value of the DRC magnum, Benn and Ilir agreed to purchase it. Ben and Ilir paid Charlie Trotter’s $40,000 in cash and $6,227.40 by credit card for the DRC magnum.

They continue that their insurance provider required an outside authentication of the bottle, during which they discovered that DRC didn’t bottle any magnums in 1945. They are demanding a refund, damages in excess of $30,000, court fees, and reimbursement of some expenses including travel to Chicago.

Charlie Trotter told the Chicago Tribune: “It was a disgruntled client who probably paid a lot more money (for the bottle) than he’s ever paid before,” Trotter said. “It’s buyer’s remorse.”

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8 Responses to “Charlie Trotter sued over alleged fake wine”

  1. Dear Doc V,
    Indeed, a wine so rare it doesn’t actually exist! With all that has been going on in the rare wine aftermarket with fake/misrepresented offerings-why not go for the outside authentication prior to purchase?

  2. Once Mr. Trotter gets over thinking he’s bullet-proof, there should be some scouring of his cellar.

  3. How can Mr. Trotter claim “buyer’s remorse”, when the seller a) requested the interested party book a table and dine at the eatery to learn about the wine (meals were not cheap there by any standard) then b) has the audacity to sell a magnum of DRC that didn’t exist? Someone had to sell the magnum to Mr. Trotter and the buyer should seek a detailed report of the wine’s provenance. Maybe will learn more about the wine and how it came into the possession of Mr. Trotter and his esteemed cadre of wine professionals when Rudy starts talking abut counterfeit wines. Buyer’s remorse??

    How about do the right thing Mr. Trotter, admit you got taken when you purchased the bottle, and rather than belittle the buyer, refund the money and then in an extra nice gesture, donate the exact amount to your favorite charity–I’m sure they would benefit.

    Martin Cody
    Cellar Angels, LLC

  4. Should be easy to confirm that DRC did not bottle any magnums 1945. If true, then Trotter was taken. Whether he knew of the fake when he sold the wine may be hard to prove, but he certainly owes the customer a refund.

  5. Mr Trotter is not the Somm, so why is he being sued? or is that the american way?


  6. it does seem odd that both parties were so intentional about making the transaction, but did not think to check the provenance of the wine until after the wine was consumed

  7. Honest to god, I encountered a guest this evening who claimed to have purchased two btls of ’82 Cheval Blanc and a double magnum of ’78 Heitz Martha’s Vineyard at ‘ol Charlie’s auction, with the Hietz and one bottle of Cheval being DOA. Granted the Cheval Blanc’s went for $600 according to the gentleman so I can’t imagine they were sold as having been stored under ideal conditions…seems a wee bit cheap, no?

    That aside, the world is a better place now that Chef Trotter has re-entered academia. Humility is covered in what? Sociology 101?

  8. Here is a link to the full complaint if interested:

    Weston – Mr. Trotter is being sued as the owner of the restaurant. Plaintiffs would not be able to sue the sommelier because the sommelier was an employee of the restaurant.

    Gabe – The wine was not consumed prior to the authentication. It was purchased and shipped and when the plaintiffs received the bottle, the bottle was analyzed by a 3rd party who found the bottle to be counterfeit. The plaintiffs state they relied on the statements by Mr. Trotter and the sommelier regarding the provenance of the wine.

    Should be an interesting case to watch!


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