Every summer I seem to have a different drink of choice. Last year it was Prosecco, and this year it's Chablis. We went to Ealing Park Tavern a few Fridays ago and I perused the wine list but didn't see any Chablis on the menu. So I asked the barman which of their whites was most like Chablis, only to be told "the Chablis" - slightly embarrassing! So when an invite to an evening of Chablis and food pairing popped in to my inbox from Douglas Blyde it was always going to be a definite yes. Diary cleared, I patiently waited for the Wednesday when we would go to The Chancery for an evening in geology and geography, learning about Chablis and the food to eat with it.
The Chancery is a smart restaurant just south of Chancery Lane. The main restaurant is on the ground floor, and is full of linen covered tables and lots of men in suits. It was downstairs in one their private rooms that chef Graham Long had created a unique, Spring themed menu for the evening to guide us through the various types of Chablis that we were tasting.
Chablis is a dry white wine that is produced in a small town in France, north west of Burgundy, and comes in 4 levels of quality - Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru - all of which we tried on the night, working our way up from Petit to Grand. Chablis is more acidic than many whites due to the cooler climate of the area and the soil that is rich in oyster fossils, from a time when France was the bottom of an ocean floor. It's this mineral taste found in Chablis that I really enjoy, and even though this taste was less present in the first Chablis we tried - the 2012 Dauvissat Petit Chablis, it worked wonderfully with the truffle arancini and crab beignet nibbles that we enjoyed before dinner was served.
We moved in to the dining room to start our meal and were given two different glasses of Chablis to try with each course. The first course was marinated raw hand dived scallops, cucumber jelly, avocado cream, sesame filo and shiso dressing - such a fresh tasting dish. The fruity taste of the first Chablis - 2012 Garnier & Fils, Grain Dores - matched this perfectly, while the 2nd Chablis with this dish - 2014 Louis Moreau - picked up the seafood notes with its citrusy edge.
Starter number 2 was paired with a duo of Premier Cru Chablis. Our tartare of trout, poached apple, nettle puree, macadamia nuts, trout eggs and foraged rock samphire and sea purslane was matched with a 2011 Jean Marc Brocard, Montee de Tonnerre Premier Cru and the 2012 Val de Mercy, Beauregards Premier Cru. I loved the texture and taste of this dish, the sweet trout and its eggs that popped in the mouth with the slightly salty sea vegetables, and the mineral flavour of the first Premier Cru completed the dish for me. The 2nd Premier Cru was a lighter wine, and was very drinkable!
Our main course was roasted quail, cannelloni of quail leg and foie gras, sweetcorn, hazelnuts, pickled mushrooms and wild garlic. It was a rich, sumptuous dish that certainly needed a good dry white to cut through it. The good dry whites were the 2012 William Fevre, Les Clos Grand Cru, and the 2013 Samuel Billaud, Les Preuses Grand Cru. The first of these had an un-Chablis like oakiness to it, which was lovely with the charred sweetcorn, while the 2nd wine had the more familiar ivory taste to it.
Our evening of Chablis at The Chancery only reaffirmed my love for this excellent wine, which I now have a much better idea of what food to pair with. As Douglas so succinctly put it - Chablis is a wine that's "iron fisted in a velvet glove", so great to drink with food, and is one that I will be drinking all summer (funds allowing)! Huge thanks to Douglas, Sopexa and The Chancery for a truly wonderful, and informative evening.