There are loads of dining options in Bordeaux, but none as bold and daring as Le Chapon Fin. Chef Nicholas Frion pushes the Michelin-star envelope both with the décor of the restaurant and the ambitious cuisine. The history of the restaurant dates back to 1855 and was one of the first establishments to receive three Michelin stars. Famous diners included Toulouse-Lautrec and Sarah Bernhardt, but according to chef Frion his biggest compliments come from the ordinary guests who appreciate his efforts and that of his Head Sommelier Alex Morin.
Alex Morin is one of Bordeaux’s youngest, hottest sommeliers. At the ripe old age of 25, he handles tough clientele with ease. Not intimidated by having prominent Chateau owners from the area as his clients, he earns their trust by having command of Le Chapon’s 7,000 bottles with over 850 references of wine. He adds 13 new references each month and is responsible for an inventory of wine worth a total of €500,000. Contrary to popular belief, Alex says he is, “…not here to sell wine, but to make people happy.” That great attitude makes him an effective sommelier who makes choosing a wine fun!
When asked which wine Alex adores the most, he quickly responded, “I fell in love with a bottle of 1921 Chateau d’Yquem Sauternes which is worth something like €5,200.” His favorite everyday wine is more reasonable, 2009 Clos Rougeard Saumur-Champigny which sells for about €35.
My nine-course fairy tale dinner began with a glass of 2004 Veuve Clicquot Rose Champagne under the over-the-top, yet fun setting of the indoor Grotto. Each course was beautifully plated with elements that ranged from classic (caviar in the seven layer dip) to the adventurous (chocolate pear and goat ice cream with caramelized toffee). The most interesting dish was the amuse bouche of red cabbage with smoked duck that had a crackled texture and came in a vibrant purple hue, but the best executed to me was his Sea Bass with pumpkin parsnips.
Wine highlights included the 2004 Chateau Saint-Pierre Grand Cru Classé and the Louis Jadot Clos de Malte Santenay.
When the elegant dinner was finished, I was a bit sad because the evening had been super! Meeting the charming Alex Morin and the talented Chef Frion was one of the highlights of my trip to Bordeaux. A special thank-you to them for taking the time for private interviews and for the complimentary exceptional dining experience.
Priscilla Pilon is a contributing writer to The Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @WeekendInParis.