Good food, good wine and good company. What more could you want for an evening? And so it was that a few fellow gastronomes and I embarked on an night of frivolity and wine tasting highlighting the wines of the very quaffable grape that is Chablis. The town of Chablis is located is the northernmost wine region of Burgundy. The cool climate produces wines with more acidity and is less fruity than Chardonnay which is grown in warmer climes. This evening’s dining was to be supplied by three talented cooks who all run their own supper clubs within London.
Hosted in a private dining room at the understatedly glamourous Andaz Hotel in Liverpool Street we started with a few cheeky glasses of La Chablisienne, Pas Si Petit, Petit Chablis. A pale green wine that begins with light honey, moving through to orange and finishing with strong citrus notes of lime. A refreshing wine that was perfect as an aperitif for our evening and matched with canapes of Cod Fishcakes and Crab, Avocado & Cucumber created by Martina and Magdalena of NORDISH supper club (who will create a Nordic dining experience at yours or theirs) it was a promising start.
As we took our seats, jollied on by a few drinks, it was time for the main event. Pre-dinner entertainment (read ‘speech’) was supplied by that well-known connoisseur of the grape Douglas Blyde. What Douglas doesn’t know really isn’t worth knowing, no really. We familiarised ourselves with the terroir, varietal of the Chablis region and the viticultural challenges faced by the growers. Chablis now has around 12,000 acres of vineyards dedicated to producing these delicious wines and despite a devastating harvest for some this year owing to late frosts, hail and floods, continues to make it’s mark with many Domaines winning awards on the international wine circuit.
Starter – Domaine Alain Geoffroy, Chablis
Our fish course was my favourite dish of the night. Whiting with tempura samphire, asparagus, pea shoots and roasted radish beautifully created by Hannah of Pickled Plates. Perfectly flaky fish and well cooked vegetables with an al dente crunch, I would have eaten my neighbour’s too but she had inhaled hers also. Oh well, luckily there was more wine to try as we were presented with a 2014 Chablis from Domaine Alain Geoffroy. The Geoffroy family have been producing wines on their fifty hectare estate since 1850. Making the most of the Kimmeridgian limestone soil this Chablis is a favourite of a few dinner parties I have attended. A light to medium bodied wine, it is dry in nature without overpowering, perfectly suited to accompany seafood.
Main Course – Julien Brocard, La Boissonneuse
For our main course we took a slow boat to Asia as we were presented with a rather overwhelming portion of Soy Glazed Pork with Raw Slaw and Brown Rice from Rosie of A Little Lusciousness. I could hear my mother in my ear saying ‘you’re too skinny, eat more’ as she would also deftly place a Mum-sized helping in front of me. Being an obvious carnivore I devoured the perfectly cooked pork with aplomb. How Rosie managed to get such a big cut to retain it’s moisture without drying out is an art in itself. I appreciated the pickling of the slaw in contrast with the sweetness of the meat but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the rice.
Our matched wine was from bio-dynamic vintner Julien Brocard who has crafted a very elegant Chablis in the form of Domaine de la Boissonneuse, 2014. A fruity and vibrant wine that stood up nicely alongside the pork, it is fresh on the palate with a nice balance and depth.
Cheeseboard – William Fevre, Chablis, Premier Cru, Vaulorent
Our final course for the evening was a battle of the cheeses as the old rivalry of France vs England reared its head to challenge our taste buds. A veritable feast of unpasteurised cheeses were placed in front of us fortunately with the familiar flags in said cheeses so we knew which was from which country. Lucky that as our wine tastings had been of generous proportions. We all had our favourites and my fellow diners and I were an even split as to which ones we preferred. It was a lively discussion and in the end we voted for a draw.
To wash down the rich cheeses we had a fantastic Chablis Premier Cru, Vaulorent from William Fevre. With complex layers of citrus and white-fleshed fruits it was rich yet fresh with a good long finish on the palate. It was by far my favourite of the Chablis wines we had sampled and rightly so, it is also the most expensive but warranted if you have a special occasion. William Fèvre’s ancestors have lived in the Chablis region for over 250 yrs. In 1959 William produced his first crop and has been extending his vineyards ever since. He now owns one of the largest Domaines within the Chablis region producing not only the more affordable Chablis but Premier and Grand Crus as well.
By the end of our evening I think it was safe to say we all had a new appreciation for the wines of the Chablis region. We were well satiated, well watered and well informed thanks to the amiable Douglas. Interactive tastings are by far my favourite kind. I have a thirst for knowledge (pun intended) and like learning more about the histories of the region and makers. I am looking forward to my next Dégustation de vines with relish (and more cheese)!
La Chablisienne Petit Chablis – Cambridge Wine Merchants
Alain Geoffroy Chablis – Oddbins
Julien Brocard La Boissonneuse – The Wine Society
William Fevre – Berry Bros & Rudd
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