Chablis at the Winter Table

Minnesota Winter is Not All Stews and Braised Meats
As the weather turns cold in Minnesota, our plates are filled with meals not seen in the summer: soups, stews, braised meats. Still, we love to have some lighter fare both to take the pressure off our belts and to remind us of those warmer summer days. Thinking of a lighter fish dish or chicken? You’ll be glad you have some Chablis on hand.

The Serein river flows through the pretty town of Chablis

Chablis Primer
The Chablis region in France is part of the Burgundy (Bourgogne) wine region although it is physically separate from the rest of the region. It is north and west of the Cote d’Or, and is about 2 hours by car south of Paris. Chablis is situated on an old sea-bed, the soils are limestone known as Kimmeridgian. The only grape allowed in Chablis wine is Chardonnay.

Chablis region courtesy of

Chablis region courtesy of

Chablis Quality Pyramid
Grapes have been grown and wine made in the Chablis region since the 12th century. The Cistercian monks had a few years to figure out which vineyards produced grapes which made a fine wine year-in and year-out. The modern embodiment of those vineyard classifications was legally defined in 1938 with the AOC system.

As in other parts of Burgundy (Bourgogne), Chablis wines are classified into levels, depending on the vineyard location, sun exposure and particular soil type.

Chablis and Petit Chablis
Today we’re enjoying a couple of Village level Chablis, so what should we expect?  The village level wines are generally a bit more affordable than the exclusive 1er Cru and Grand Cru wines. They are a little less intense and usually are best in the first several years after the vintage.  These are the wines to enjoy while you wait for your expensive 1er Cru and Grand Cru wines to age!

The Bourgogne Wines organization has a very nice Chablis wines website, here. They have a number of detailed pages, here’s one on Petit Chablis and here’s one on Chablis. The first thing to know is that this region is cool, right at the edge of what it takes to ripen Chardonnay. The resulting wine is lighter in body, refreshingly acidic, with citrus fruits like lemon and mineral characteristics. The wines rarely show any signs of oak aromas and flavors. If you’re looking for something very different from oaky, buttery California Chardonnay, you’ve come to the right place!

Disclosure: The wines for this post were provided as samples, no other compensation was involved. All opinions expressed are mine.

Domaine Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis

Domaine Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis AOC 2018 (sample, SRP $30 or online here) 13% abv
Domaine Billaud-Simon offers a full range of Chablis wines from the Petit Chablis we enjoyed to prestigious Grand Crus.

Eye: Pale lemon
Nose: Lemon curd, just ripe green apple, a hint of tarragon, a touch of hay, wet gravel
Mouth: Dry with high acidity, medium body with a slightly creamy texture, medium alcohol, medium finish. Medium intensity flavors of lemon curd, green apple, tarragon, hay and gravel.
Observations: Bright refreshing acidity, yes, but a nice slightly creamy texture makes it a bit more polished. Good intensity for Petit Chablis, nice!

We served our Petit Chablis with a pre-dinner cheese and charcuterie plate.

Petit Chablis – Charcuterie and Cheese First Course
Typically, Petit Chablis would be served as aperitif or 1st course, as with our charcuterie board. However, the Billaud-Simon Petit Chablis was a bit of a pleasant surprise, being a bit richer than expected. It would happily place it with a variety of fish or chicken dishes as well!

Maison Joseph Drouhin Chablis AOC “Vaudon” 2019

Joseph Drouhin Chablis AOC “Vaudon” 2019 (sample, $20 or online here) 12.5% abv
Maison Joseph Drouhin is one of the large negociants in Burgundy. Although they mature, blend and market wines made by small growers, they also own many vineyards and make their own wines. The Vaudon estate is the historic heart of Joseph Drouhin in Chablis and today, all Drouhin Chablis wines carry the Vaudon name as a reminder of their history.

Eye: Pale lemon
Nose: medium intensity aromas of fresh white blossoms, seashells, lemon, green apple, fresh thyme and hay.
Mouth: Dry with high acidity, medium body with just barely creamy texture, medium alcohol, medium plus finish of lingering lemons. Medium intensity flavors of white blossoms, seashells, lemon, green apple, fresh thyme and hay.
Observations: Refreshing aromas and flavors of lemons and seashells, this wine has a combination of lively acidity and a touch of buffering creaminess to keep it from being austere.

(click on any photo below for a full-size slideshow)

Chablis with Fish in Parchment
Because fish in parchment relies on fresh flavors and no sauce, Chablis is the perfect match; you wouldn’t want anything heavier or richer alongside the fish.

Fish in Parchment

This recipe should serve as a general guide, you can customize for what you have on hand and for each person’s preference. I like dill, but Julie doesn’t. So, dill for me and cilantro for her! Slice the vegetables very thinly, I don’t sauté beforehand but you can if you like your veggies a bit better cooked.


  • 1 large circle of parchment per person
  • 4 oz fish filet per person. Today we used Mahi Mahi, but virtually any mild fish works great. Cod and salmon are good choices.
  • Minced shallots or onions
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • Lemon juice or thinly sliced lemons
  • Fresh herbs of your choice – dill, cilantro, basil, parsley, thyme, capers
  • Thinly sliced fresh vegetables of your choice – fennel, olives (pitted), cherry tomatoes, red peppers
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Fancy topping – crab!


  • Preheat oven to 450° F
  • Fold parchment in half, then unfold.
  • Place the fish just off center of the parchment so you can fold it neatly in half.
  • Drizzle with just a bit of EVOO, salt and pepper
  • Top with herbs, veggies and lemon
  • Carefully fold the parchment over.
  • Starting at one side of the half-circle, roll and crimp the parchment paper. Work your way around to the other side.
  • Place the parchment wrapped fish on a baking pan
  • Roast in the oven for 15 minutes
  • Remove from oven. Either open the parchment and carefully remove the contents with a spatula, or simply serve the parchment package as a surprise for each guest to open.
  • Serve with quinoa, rice or starch of your choice. A vegetable on the side is optional.

One Response to “Chablis at the Winter Table”
  1. Both these wines seem to offer very good value ( especially the Joseph Drouhin Chablis AOC “Vaudon”)! Will look to give your recipe a try Jeff!

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