‘Where people marry for vines and divorce for love…’ How could you not be intrigued by a drink borne of a landscape like that? This is Douglas Blyde’s description of the Chablis region, the territory in the northernmost part of the Burgundy wine districts.
Blyde’s our guide through the emotionally tangled region of Chablis and the host of tonight’s Bacchus on a Knife Edge dinner – a Chablis-matched series of courses meant to inflame the Chablis-lovers in the group of press. And hopefully educate the Chablis-novices, which I extremely am. Novice and happily ignorant, usually; white wine’s never been high on my list of anything really. Even Blyde, circling the room during the canapés – Nordic fishcakes thanks to Martina and Magdelena of NORDISH – admits that there’s something ‘feline’ about the ‘Pas Si Petit’ Petit Chablis we’re served with them, a 2014 aperitif from La Chablisienne. The felinity, he says – to paraphrase less lyrically – is something difficult to love at first, one that you might warm to with time but will never really warm to you, one that’s slippery and can’t be counted on. One that will tolerate you but not love you. One that knows no master.
Blyde’s a self-professed cat person, but even as somebody who wants more in the way of love and loyalty from my animals, I could learn to appreciate that complexity, that stubbornness, in the wine we’re drinking. It doesn’t have any of the thinness of the whites that white wine ignorance often leads me to end up with the rare times I order it; it’s not oversweet.
The dinner moves on, through roasted radish and fried whiting salad from Hana of Pickled Plates and a 2014 Alain Geoffroy Chablis and a pork chop glazed with Japanese umami – thanks to Rosie and A Little Lusciousness – with Julien Brocard’s La Boissonneuse Chablis from 2014.
Blyde talks each course down to the table, spilling poetry and wine knowledge. The image that coalesces out of all this backstory is one of a challenging terrain sprouting challenging wines – a few that are second only in allure and standoffishness to a cat, a few so rich and buttery Blyde matches ice buckets of Grand Crus with the cheeseboard that finishes off our dinner.
I can’t say I’m a permanent convert to white wine. But thanks to the brief glimpse we’ve had of the poetry of the Chablis whites – the catlike sleekness, and the hard, fossilised terrain that it’s borne from – it won’t be my last up-close encounter with the feline, footsure wines of the Chablis region.
The Bacchus on a Knife Edge dinner was hosted at Andaz Studio
For more details visit chablis-wines.com, or search for #PureChablis