Bordeaux, France

  • Date
  • 4 December 1999

Le Pavillon des Boulevards, operated by Nelly and Denis Franc, rates a one star from Michelin. Service and food were top-notch. I began with foie gras (140 FF, US$23) prepared over capers and onions, over red cabbage with an Asian flavor and over parsley. Jim ate Liegeois de caviar (180 FF, US$29) served in a parfait glass with lobster in cream topped with caviar on the crown. Then for me, wild mallard (150FF, US$24) filled with white turnips and for Jim, lamb de Pauillac style (180FF, US$29) with stuffed red peppers. We then devoured an out of this world complimentary mini chocolate soufflé before completing our meal with Roquefort so unbelievably strong and delicious we ordered another serving.

Our experience with the wine, in one of the world’s premier wine regions, was not so good. First we drank a delicious, semi-full-bodied 1995 Chateau Lady Langoa (390 FF, US$65). Then for the real treat, we splurged on a half bottle of 1983 Mouton Rothschild (600 FF, US$100). Yesterday, we visited the Chateau where Mouton Rothschild is grown, cultivated and bottled, and have talked non-stop of tasting this wine ever since. Sadly, the aroma and taste disappointed me. Doubting my newfound wine-tasting skill, especially since I knew this should be delicious, I urged Jim to taste and he agreed, pointing out too that the wine was cold and the cork was dry.

Pierre, the sommelier, insisted nothing was wrong with the wine so I invited him to sample. “Delicious as it should be,” he told us. Still, we refused the wine knowing it was not up to standard. Pierre suggested another half bottle of 1996 Chateau Haut-Marbuzet, a newer wine since he deemed our taste buds undeveloped. This wine was no where near as tantalizing as our first wine, Lady Langoa.

Our check arrived and Pierre had charged us for the refused half-bottle of Mouton Rothschild. “We will not pay for wine that was not acceptable,” Jim exclaimed in a polite rage. Certainly Pierre is still bad-mouthing the horrible Americans who know nothing about wine!