When you get an invitation titled ‘Wine made for Food’ from Domaine Laroche Chablis, you reply in good grace with an astounding ‘Yes!’... So let’s get this straight - Domaine Laroche is synonymous with Chablis. At least, to me it is, and I am not even a Chablis fanatic. It is just how I know it to be.
This was an enlightening and delectable lunch featuring Domaine Laroche 2014 premier and grand cru Chablis, plus a rare, older vintage from the winery’s cellar. But first - location. Redbird LA is a modern American restaurant housed in an old cathedral building. So not only was the entrance grand but the décor and ambiance are eye-catchingly fresh and inviting. They have added on to an existing space to make it their own while its character is maintained. It is hard to explain if you have not seen it but loved their indoor and outdoor spaces.
This event though was in a private party area upstairs. Tables were laid out with tasteful linens filling up a bright and airy room, and none other than the elegant Global Ambassador Gwenaël Laroche was there to welcome guests. You know a lady of style and substance at first glimpse. Gwenaël is that, and more. If I had any apprehensions about my Chablis ignorance, I now knew I was in good hands! The Laroche family has been dedicated to producing top quality wines from the Chablis region for more than 160 years. The history of Laroche dates back to 1850, and recent expansion has taken their holdings from around 15 acres in 1967 to just under 250 acres of prime Chablis vineyards today. Only Chardonnay grapes are grown in Chablis. The grand cru and premier cru Chardonnay vineyards are planted primarily on the region’s unique Kimmeridgian soil — a mixture of clay, chalk and fossilized oyster shells — renowned for producing crisp, mineral-ly, precise and elegant wines.
We started with a light and airy 2015 Chablis Saint Martin (magnum) while introductions were made.
First course - Scallop Aguachile – with cucumber, radish, Serrano. Served with 2014 Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaudevey and 2014 Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons Vieilles Vignes. The former a sharp citrus while the latter was the perfect balance between acidity and fruity.
Second course – Cavatelli – with rabbit sausage, peas, midnight moon, wild foraged mushrooms. Served with 2014 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos and 2014 Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots. The former “a fantastic austere vintage” per Gwenaël and the latter offering a different temper whether on its own or paired.
Third course – wild Salmon – with morels, nettles, spring garlic, lemon. Served with 2014 Chablis Grand Cru Réserve de l’Obédience. Exceptional and essentially the best flavor match. Connoisseurs alert!
Dessert – Pavlova with passion fruit curd, matcha green tea sorbet. Served with 2007 Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots (magnum). Took Gwenaël’s advise on this and enjoyed the liquid before the solid.
Overall the staff was impeccable with their service and Chef Neal Fraser of Redbird LA had the perfect flavors going to enhance every sip of Chablis. Gwenaël and the Wilson Daniels team (exclusive importers) had a class event in the works, and, of course, who can find fault with Chablis this good!
Here’s why these wines are great:
The approach to viticulture is to create optimal conditions to achieve top-quality fruit They encourage low yields and natural ecology to produce fruit that is true to its vineyard origins
They rely on one- man plots so one person is wholly responsible for the care of a single vineyard parcel, from the pruning, soil conditioning and control of yields to the sorting of the harvest.
They are currently undergoing active conversion to organic viticulture.
They retain purity and minerality in the finished wines with screw cap closures.
No, I did not know all of the above but was educated on these aspects at this event. I am now officially a Chablis convert.