PureChablis and led by Douglas Blyde at Andaz
Chablis is a miracle, a triumph over nature.
Centuries ago, the Cluniac monks brought their Beaunois vines to this challenging river valley cooled by damp, chilly air from the Serein.
Closer to Reims than to Dijon, Chablis may seem, climatically, more southerly Champagne than northern Burgundy.
However, where Champagne relies on secondary fermentation to give substance to an otherwise tart wine, in Chablis it is the Burgundian elements of terroir - vineyard aspect, elevation, exposure and undulation - rather than production method, that ultimately determine quality.
For Chablis, winemaking is all about focus; one colour, one appellation, one soil type; the wines themselves are also characterised by a nervy, cool-climate precision.
From light and lemony Petit Chablis - a "junior" Chablis grown on more exposed hilltops on lesser soils - to rich and honeyed Grands Crus from one the seven top neighbouring plots all facing due south, the natural progression is start with entry-level sippers before moving to bigger and fuller Crus with weightier dishes.
Pas Si Petit, Petit Chablis 2014, La Chablisienne a light, elegantly citrussy match with miniature Norwegian fishcakes and remoulade, and curled cucumber filled with crab and avocado salad.
Starter, Pickled Plates
Alain Geoffroy, Chablis 2014 a deft, citrussy Chablis matched with summer vegetable salad of roasted radishes, brown butter dressing, pan-fried whiting and tempura samphire
Main, A Little Lusciousness
Julien Brocard, Chablis La Boissonneuse, 2014 organic and biodynamic, a rounded, complex, substantial Chablis with a touch of oak; flintsmoke, citrus and melon - long, full and mineral.
Matched with soy and miso-glazed pork chop on the bone with spring onion rice, Japanese raw slaw, rice vinegar and chilli dressing .
Chablis does not do dessert wines, so the final course was a cheese-off - with more Chablis:
- Stichleton (Nottinghamshire) vs. Bleu d’Auvergne
- Baron Bigod (Bungay) vs. Camember
- Montgomery Cheddar (Somerset) vs. Comté
Domaine William Fevre, Vaulorent, Premier Cru 2012 fresh, precise, mineral, with honeysuckle blossom and toastiness. Rich and adept, very elegant and muscular.
Jean Paul et Benoit Droin, Valmur Grand Cru 2012 toasty, flintsmoke, honey, ripe orchard fruit, blossom and minerality. Long, linear and taut.
Clotilde Davenne Les Preuses Grand Cru 2008 ripe and honeyed with orchard fruit; mineral and delicately floral. Very elegant and harmonious.
Domaine Laroche Les Blanchots Grand Cru 2007 honeyed, floral and aromatic; mineral, poised and linear, quietly muscular, elegant and deft.
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Pure Chablis - The Overview