There are few wines in the world that I enjoy more than Chablis. I think it’s no coincidence that it’s also one of my favourite wine villages.
Let you take you back almost ten years… Jason and I were on our honeymoon. I had organized our wedding (the most smashing 1920s themed event!) and tasked Jason with our honeymoon plans. He plotted and planned, but three months before the wedding, let the cat out of the bag. For our three weeks together, we were going to visit the famous wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy. But because we wanted to visit some of the world’s most famous châteaux, he needed help writing in French. You may or may not know this, but the majority of Burgundy, and all of Bordeaux, are private estates. That means that you can’t just walk up to the gates and ask for a tasting. We had to apply three months in advance, in writing, to see some of the chateaux.
Jason had picked the places that he wanted to see… He had researched the most innovative and respected château. No where on our list was Chablis… After all, it’s a bit of a cult following. But when we arrived in Paris to follow my dear old friend D out to her husband’s family château in Burgundy, life happened and she wasn’t able to host us after all.
We scrambled, using our wine guide and tourist guidebooks in a shadowy phone booth on the streets of Paris, until we found a little hotel in the very far north of Burgundy. It said in the guidebook “just five minutes north of the famous village of Chablis.”
Little did we know that would be one of our favorite parts of the trip, and Chablis would forever hold a place in my heart. It’s a lovely little village, with the typical French market in the middle of town, stone houses with shutters closed against the summer heat, and a gorgeous little river running through the middle. I remember they were flowers on the streets, and wherever you went, whether it be the boulangerie or the patisserie, everyone was friendly and welcoming. It was my first experience of the French countryside, and I will never forget it.
Our second day at the little hotel, we wondered into the village to buy some picnic lunch. I have an amazing memory for food, so I can tell you that we ate some baguette, tabouli, olives, and a local cheese.
After this quiet lunch, we wandered into town further and walked into a tiny storefront called William Fevre.
Of course at the time, we didn’t know that this was the most famous exporter from Chablis. We chatted with the man, who explained about the area’s steep little hills, and jagged limestone rocks that characterize the villages wine. He pointed out on a map the various cru, and we joyously tasted 9 different wines, each from one of the vineyards. It was amazing… Chablis all shares an overt mineralogy, caused by the limestone rocks in the vineyards. But there are nuances of different fruits, different flowers, and intensity. Meanwhile, we heard a man stomping around on the stairs and our guide mentioned that it was William himself. I was too nervous to ask to meet him… Today, I certainly would have been more bold!
After buying two half bottles of this most delicious nectar, and stopping at one more winery storefront, we drove our rented VW Golf up the hillsides and into the vineyards. I remember walking about in the rocks, marveling at how anything could be grown here, much less the grapes that made this delicious wine.
I hope you will enjoy an amazing bottle of Chablis. It is Chardonnay, but has none of that tropical bombastic nose that Chardonnay is known for in warmer climates. Here, it is restrained, and fresh. Dry, complex, and restrained. Serve it slightly chilled, with delicate white foods. I think of food in color… and Chablis is certainly amazing with the light gray of fresh oysters, or, with the paleness of eggs, as I had here for my lunch.
If you would like to enjoy your Chablis with the same delicious recipe, here is my egg salad recipe. Bon appétit!
Tarragon Egg Salad
Hard boil six eggs. Make sure that you don’t overcook them… I always heat the eggs up in cold water to boiling. Then I let them gently boil for five minutes, take them off the stove, and bathe in cold water.
Chill the eggs and peel them, then chop them up. In a little bowl, combine a third cup mayonnaise, with a teaspoon of seedy French mustard, a good pinch of sea salt, and a tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon. Then gently mix the mayonnaise into the eggs.
Voila! Try this delicious simple lunch on a bed of spinach, crackers, or toast. It’s even better the second day, after a night in the fridge. Bon appétit!