Sometimes you go to a wine dinner with some trepidation wondering if the wine will stand up to the food but I was pretty optimistic that Domaine Long-Depaquit’s Chablis would survive at Nobu (the original Metropolitan hotel restaurant in London, not LA, sadly!)
Not that it’s always an easy ride. As habitués of Nobu will know this is powerfully flavoured food with an exotic twist on Japanese staples like sashimi and a lot of richly smokey meat dishes. I have drunk fruitier whites like Sancerre (Jolivet's) and more full-bodied ones like Smith Haut-Lafitte with some success with Nobu’s food before, along with softer styles of red Bordeaux. Would even mature Chablis stand up to the bigger dishes?
We kicked off with three 2009 premier crus, Les Beugnons (a sub-division of Les Vaillons), Les Vaillons itself and Les Vaucopins, an impressive trio and the first vintages for which winemaker Matthieu Mangenot was completely responsible. Apart from the terroirs, the main difference was the oak treatment - les Beugnons had none, Les Vaillons 10% and Les Vaucoupins about 15%. All were brilliant with the oysters, as you’d expect, but I found the structure and minerality of the Vaucoupins made it the best partner for the three sashimi dishes, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, new style salmon and scallops and seabass sashimi with dry miso.
We had two grand crus with the next couple of dishes, the Les Blanchots 07 and a Les Clos 08. The latter went particularly well with a lobster salad with spicy lemon dressing but was thrown slightly off-track by a dish of rock shrimp tempura with three quite challenging dips including jalapeno again. The Les Blanchots worked better with that.
Two bottlings of Moutonne next which is part of the Vaudesir and Preuses crus - a magnum of 2006 and an ‘02 which I thought stole the show with an umami-rich dish of poussin with truffle teriyaki (like other aged white burgundy mature chablis has its own umami notes) It also handled a challenging dish of dover sole with red chilli shiso.
The poussin also went really well with a lively, graceful 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er cru Lavaux Saint-Jacques from Bichot which was wheeled out with the final meat dishes. A good move with a meal of this length, it has to be said (there was an insane amount of food). Both the poussin and a dish of beef toban yaki had markedly smokey notes that were particularly well suited to the wine.
There were puddings at this point which were served with a mystery bottle which turned out to be a 2000 Tokaji Oremus 5 puttonyos but by this point no-one was up to much matching.
So what might you take from all this? Well if I were eating in Nobu or similar modern Asian restaurants like Zuma or Roka I wouldn’t be worrying overmuch about individual terroirs. The key factors in the success of these matches was minerality, weight and age. With the richness of Nobu’s food I think a little oak helped but in a more conventional Japanese restaurant you could happily do without it. The older vintages, especially the ’02 were lovely with the richer fish and poultry dishes but then they’re not going to be available or affordable on the average restaurant winelist - certainly not Nobu’s.
Personally I’d be more than happy to drink premier cru Chablis through half to two thirds of a meal of this type then switch, as we did, to red burgundy. What you don’t want with this type of food is aggressive tannins.
Incidentally there are some other good suggestions on the Albert Bichot website for food matches for these wines.
I ate at Nobu as a guest of Domaine Long-Depaquit