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After 22 years at Château-Margaux, which many oenophiles consider a vanguard of vino, Vincent Maurin has left Bordeaux, France, behind and opened his own Chez Vincent wine bar in the oceanside enclave of Fort Lauderdale’s Galt Ocean Mile.
The original plan was all about Miami-Dade. That’s where he and his business partner/daughter, Nastasia, had set their sites during vacation visits. The Magic City might work as a getaway for Gauls, but when it comes to business, Maurin says Broward is better.
“For me, the picture in Miami is drinking with the bottle and here it is with the glass,” he explains.
So, in the space that was formerly Vinos Wine Bar, the Maurins opened Chez Vincent on July 26 after moving to South Florida three months ago.
“When we were searching for places for business … we found this place [and] it was exactly what we dreamt of,” recalls Nastasia. “When we discover the neighbors, we fell in love — the city, the neighborhood, the people here are very nice. It’s exactly what we dreamed of.”
Not that Miami isn’t nice, they hasten to add. It just didn’t fit the vibe they want to create with Chez Vincent.
“We love Miami, but we really, really fell in love with the city of Fort Lauderdale,” says Nastasia. “[Miami is] noisy. It’s for people who like parties. We wanted to live somewhere where it’s more family. When we discovered Fort Lauderdale — because we didn’t know this city before — it’s smaller, nicer and more family [oriented].”
Chez Vincent is all family run. There is one employee helping out and another daughter, Angelina, back in France. Nastasia’s mother and Vincent’s wife, Claire, puts together the French fare on the food menu: various charcuterie platters (some imported from France, Italy and Spain); hot and cold sandwiches as well as breakfast service with baguettes, croissants, and ham and cheese plates.
Nastasia adds, “And for lunch we propose sandwiches that we can make also [into] salads. For evening we are [your] typical French wine bar.”
There are 40 wines, including some sparkling wines and Champagnes.
“I have tasted all the wine,” Vincent says. “We have white wines from the U.S., from France, New Zealand and Italy. We have red wine from Spain, Chile, Argentina, France and the U.S.”
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Vincent has his professional wine taster diploma through the tutelage of the late great Denis Dubourdieu, former director of the Oenological Institute of Bordeaux.
“He really wants to share what he learned at Château-Margaux as a wine taster,” says Nastasia. “He wants to share it and [help] people learn how to taste the wine, how to [taste] the difference between the different wines, how to combine wines with different meals and how to make wine, from the ground to the bottle.”
For his part, Vincent says simply, “I’m here not for the money. Because other French stay here only for the money. Me? I’m bigger on sharing what I have in my head about the wine.”
Nastasia has two master’s degrees, one in international business and another in human resources management. She is a world traveler, occasionally living in other countries as part of her studies. But she says she’s always wanted to immigrate to the United States.
“For me it was [a] dream,” she recalls. “I can’t explain it. Since my childhood I have felt very attracted by this country. I have talked about it since my childhood to my parents. My mother is all the time cold and here she’s not. It’s perfect for her.
“And the mother of my father, my grandmother, always wanted to come here for U.S. and now she’s gone. So, for my father, he is doing her dream also. The culture is so different and still we fit here. We feel at home. We fit in this country. Even though we lived in France since forever.”