Chablis for the Summertime!

Jul 29, 15 Chablis for the Summertime!

Chablis, it’s what’s for summer. Recently I was reminded just how good Chablis is. Oh, sure you have your new world oaked chardonnays and your unoaked chardonnays but nothing beats the Old World like a properly balanced Chablis; the fine balancing act between acidity, fruit and oak. What makes Chablis, which is always made from Chardonnay special, is that it has its roots in a seam of 155m year old fossilised oyster shells – the same ground that exists in the town of Kimmeridge, Dorset, and runs through parts of Champagne, the Loire valley and of course, Chablis.

We had the chance to see how this wine pairs with food during a recent dinner at The Chancery. To make things confusing, Chablis has it’s own classifications, Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru, a classification that is unique to Chablis only. We started off with canapes and a pure and intense  Dauvissat Petit Chablis 2012. Crisp and clean, it was delightful with the crab beignettes served alongside it. Petit Chablis is often looked down upon but in reality it makes a great aperitif.

The next step up is Chablis. Chablis can be made from grapes anywhere in the appellation. I find Chablis to be a fabulous white wine, having weight to it but still being very fresh. I like the way it sits in my mouth before going on its merry way. The Garnier & Fils ‘Grains Dores’ 2012 is matured in expensive Austrian oak and has that lovely weightiness to it, paired with a creamy avocado and scallop dish it was a sensation. The other wine paired with it was a youthful 2014, made by Louis Moreau, the President of the Union des Grands Crus de Chablis. A zippy and fresher wine, there were hints of citrus on the nose and palate.

We then moved onto  Chablis 1er Cru, which comes from precisely defined geographical areas. My favourite was the  Jean Marc Brocard’s Montée de Tonerre 2011, the vineyards are close to Chablis’ Grand Cru vineyards and you can see that in the taste. It had intriguing, crystallised apricot notes with underlying butter and liquorice notes and even a touch of white pepper to it. Brocard has 200 hectares of vines and is determined to convert them all to biodynamic vineyards – an admirable task in the cool climate of Chablis.

There are seven grand crus in Chablis, which are all to be found overlooking the town of Chablis and the River Serein. The William Fevre Le Clos 2012 and Samuel Billaud’s Les Preuses 2013 paired with a dish that usually is paired with red wine: roasted quail, cannelloni of the leg and foie gras, sweetcorn, hazelnuts, pickled mushrooms and wild garlic. I was a bit sceptical but both wines held their own. The Le Clos had spent a considerable amount of time in oak which definitely helped in washing down the quail. The Les Preuses was a commanding wine and was also able to stand up to the quail – take that!

All in all a most enjoyable meal and of course, the fabulously cool wines of Chablis. This is a wine that should get more play in the mainstream, especially considering how food friendly they are and, in comparison to other French whites, very affordable.

 

 

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