Thursday, April 2, 2015

Jambon au Chablis And Gougères With 2011 William Fevre Chablis Vaudésir

Every once in a while, we eat something that tastes like "a thing," the sort of "thing" that tastes like people have been eating this combination for decades, because it's capital-G Good. And they drink the wine made down the street with it because, decades ago, they tailored the food for the wine. And vice versa.

Maybe it's not "our thing" all the time, because this meal had buckets of heavy cream by the...bucket. But, together with a higher-end Chablis and plenty of tarragon, jambon au Chablis with three-cheese gougères came off oddly light. We'll be forgoing the cream bucket dinner for at least a year, but this was a freakin' delicious meal.

Saveur recipes for both (links above), from their Chablis piece. Cheap ham from Aldi and recipes followed to the letter with one exception - didn't strain the sauce, cuz we like chunks of tomato-shallot goodness. Note: make sure your eggs fully come up to room temperature. My pâte à choux didn't come together until the very last egg. Felt like magic unfolding in the face of disaster.

Eat a bite of ham. Dip one of the gougéres in the luscious sauce. Rinse with fancy Chablis. Repeat 20 times. Finish with arugula salad. And you have yourself a winner-winner Ham-cream dinner!

We could have had a bottle of run-of-the-mill white Burgundy here and been relatively happy, but the 2011 William Fevre Chablis Vaudésir ($70 - Binny's) made the night. One of the best noses on a white I've smelled in years. Smoky, mushroomy, light citrus, an enormous mineral waft. Same on the palate for the first 2/3 of a sip. Then, the last 1/3...that last 1/3...Gee Whiz! It expanded out so beautifully, so fancily, becoming so much more of what was already a delicious wine, and becoming one of the best white wines we've had in years. Such high-toned minerals! Tasted like walking down an ordinary street and then you come across a building with architecture that speaks to you in highest sense possible. "Look at that! Look at it!"

In the more spendy white wine world, we mostly stick in the Heredia-Dagueneau-Champagne world. With those being reliably great, and so many solid, food-friendly, white wines out there that are shockingly cheap (mainly because so many people will never spend more than $15 on a white - more for us), we've been fine remaining in the under-$40 white wine range. This wine made us rethink things. Just a bit.

Rather perfect pairing. The salt in the ham played like two dogs that like each other play. But any bite with tarragon in it straightened out and expanded the already beautiful notes in the wine.

Golly. That was a fine meal.

Note: Wild boar with pickled chestnuts, lapsang souchong lentils, celery root-potato mash and roasted tomatoes with fennel pollen made for a dinner with flavors jumping everywhere. We liked this meal muchly. Pickled chestnuts, I still don't know what to think of you, but I know I never had you before, which was nice. And roasted tomatoes with fennel pollen is a thing that will be a thing in this house henceforth.

Unfortunately, the wine didn't add much in the way of memory. Popped a 2007 Villa Creek High Road James Berry Vineyard Paso Robles ($70 - Winery) came off flat and made the food taste boring. We jettisoned it after a couple of sips, opting for a bottle of 2012 Ledge Vineyard Drive Rhone Blend ($40 - Binny's). 48% syrah, 25% grenache, 15% mourvèdre, 2% roussanne. Better. Much better. The food liked the wine and vice versa, revealing a roundness and jump simply not there with the Villa Creek. Don't know if we'd buy it again, but pleasant one-off here.          

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