Chablis Tasting and Supper at Andaz Studio:
Suppers involving wine tasting have a recurring end result for me. My notes at the start of the evening are comprehensive and precise. By the time the cheese is served I’m in free-fall and anything after that is gone with the wind…an abstract scrawl in my notebook that must have meant something at the time.
But I still enjoy myself…and I hope that some of what I’ve heard is subliminally absorbed.
An evening with a group of writers led by none other than wine writer Douglas Blyde seemed like a great chance to get to know one particular wine rather better. Chablis.
Now, those of you who belong to the ABC club (anything but chardonnay) may be surprised to learn that all Chablis is 100% chardonnay grape. But, unlike some New World wines, Chablis, from Burgundy is generally not heavily oaked and is a lighter, fresher wine thanks to the chalky terroir as well as the wine making. I hadn’t ever tasted such a wide range of Chablis though and did enjoy discovering the breadth of Chablis.
Our evening started with Scandinavian-inspired canapés by Martina and Magdelena of NORDISH’ – miniature Norwegian fish cakes with remoulade and cucumber rolls filled with crab and avocado. ‘Pas Si Petit’ Petit Chablis 2014 lived up to its name and was a perfect citrusy pairing for the canapes. Petit Chablis is produced from specific parts of the region which have a different soil structure and is regarded as the junior appellation. And, La Chablisienne is a co-operative, with 300 growers, that makes nearly a third of Chablis wine.
At the table for our starter from Hannah of Pickled Plates, we were offered one step up the ladder in the form of Alain Geoffroy’s 2014 Chablis. Paired with a summer vegetable salad with roasted radishes, brown butter dressing, pan-fried whiting and tempura samphire, this was a slightly salty, dry mouthful that worked particularly well with the whiting and samphire. Alain Geoffroy is the patriache of a winery where, if you are in the region, there’s a corkscrew museum with over 1,500 versions on show. They are obviously rightly consigned to a museum too since the 2014 wine is sealed under screwcap.
Our main course, soy and miso-glazed pork chop on the bone was served with spring onion rice, Japanese slaw, rice vinegar and chilli dressing. Rosie of A Little Lusciousness did an admirable job of serving a large group efficiently enough that the food was hot and we hadn’t drunk all the wine before our plates appeared. The paired wine, Chablis La Boissonneuse2014, is an organic, biodynamic wine, from one of the region’s first organically farmed chablis vineyards. Julien Brocard is a young producer – his wine is lightly oaked but still with the citrus, apple and minerally notes of a classic chablis.
There were plenty of wines to try paired with the boards of unpasteurized cheese to round off our meal. My personal favourite, the second Grand Cru I tried, was the Blanchot 2007 Domaine Laroche. I suspect earlier in the evening I might have appreciated the Blanchot 2008 Domaine Guy Robin more, but after a lot of food and wine, I really appreciated the intensity and energy, minerality and apple notes of the Domaine Laroche, while the Domaine Guy Robin just seemed a little buttery for me.
I loved the cheeses with both wines, though – we compared Stichleton with Bleu d’Auverne, Baron Bigod from Bungay with Camembert from Normandy and Montgomery Cheddar from North Cadbury, Somerset with Comté. Did I have favourites? yes certainly, for me the English won the blue cheese round, the French Camembert was a clear winner over the Baron Bigod and I wouldn’t want to choose between Montgomery and Comté – just give me both. So that makes it a draw?
We carried on drinking from a wide selection of different Chablis. By now, I’d given up making notes but surprisingly the evidence is there in one or two still-in-focus bottle shots. I left replete, with that lovely aftertaste that comes from drinking good wine.
With many thanks to Douglas and to Chablis Wines in addition to our supper club hosts, for such a superb evening.