Chablis with Braised Chicken

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Two dear friends have begun sharing their wine knowledge and tasting experience on their new blog, Tag: Wine. They’ve graciously offered to share the wine love on Eat Boutique each week, lucky us!

A boutique wine from Chablis? “C’est impossible!” you might be thinking.

But, in the small town of Milly located just over 2 hours from Paris, the Defaix family is doing just that.

Bernard Defaix started from scratch in 1959 with little more than 2 hectares (5 football fields) worth of grapes. Today, the property has grown to about 26 hectares, but wine production is still very much a family affair.  Bernard’s two sons have taken a more active role in the family business and continue to guide Defaix’s wines to critical acclaim.  The bottle we selected is the Vieilles Vignes (Old Vines) Chablis, which means it is a blend of ~45 year old vines from a number of different vineyards throughout the region.

The wine is pale-gold, almost like apple juice, with a clean, crisp smell. Aromas are of lean citrus fruit, such as lemon or tart pineapple, with tons of minerality lurking in the background. The toasty vanilla notes imparted by oak aging (and sometimes overwhelming in New World wines) are only really perceptible during the long, rounded and balanced finish. The racy acidity found in most Chablis is front and center throughout, making us think that while a glass of Defaix’s Chablis is enjoyable on its own, the excellent structure and acidity make this wine ideal for food pairing.

This was a special bottle because we visited Chablis last year, but were unable to stop by Defaix because we ran out of time.  We wanted to pair it with something simple that wouldn’t try to steal the spot light, so we settled on braised chicken and vegetables.

After chopping the onions, tomatoes and garlic, we poured a glass and took the first sip – so refreshing!  Then we slipped the chicken into the oven and set the timer.  We had another sip of wine – delicious.  Seeing where this was headed, we decided to set the bottle aside until the chicken was ready so there would be some left.  And we’re glad we did!  The roasted garlic and fennel seeds really popped when combined with the smooth and rounded citrus flavors of the wine. We used Gourmet Magazine’s Poulet Provencal recipe for braised chicken with tomatoes and olives.

Another option for this delicate wine would be fleshy seafood, like pan seared halibut or scallops, simply prepared. Here are a couple recipes that might be just right:

If you pick up this bottle over the winter, another great match would be a dozen salty, briny, fresh oysters. There are many native local varieties to choose from, so just remember the shorter they travel, the better they taste!

Bernard Defaix Vieille Vignes Chablis 2007 | $18 at The Wine Library, Springfield NJ

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