Four versions of the classic Hawaiian poke meet the classic French wine from Chablis and the the results were VERY unexpected.
A Classic French Wine
This month the French #winophiles take on the classic mineral driven wines of Chablis, famous for its oyster shell laden terroir.
Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, Chablis is profoundly unique for its Kimmeridgean soils that lend a characteristic freshness that ideally pairs with seafood dishes, most notoriously fresh oysters.
For this pairing experiment, I decided to try my wines with the classic seafood dish from Hawaii: poke.
A Classic Hawaiian Dish
Poke is a Hawaiian seafood dish consisting of cubes of raw fish seasoned with onion, salt, seaweed, chili and sometimes soy sauce.
I don't mind making poke, since it doesn't involve cooking and timing as chopping. Since the flavors are not enhanced by heat, the ingredients themselves are showcased in naked, mostly raw form.
A Poke Quartet
- Double Onion Wild Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Poke with Toasted Sesame Seeds
- Lomi Salmon with Salted Sockeye, Tomatoes, and Red Onion
- Octopus Tako Poke with Pickled Ginger, Wakame, and Sichimi Togarashi chili spice
- Chiogga Beet Poke with Avocado and Sweet, Sesame Soy Dressing
Bonus: Miyagi oysters on the half shell with lemon wedges because I had to try pairing them with my duo of Chablis.
A Duo of Chablis
#1 - 2018 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin
12.5% alcohol, $28
Background: Per the wine house, long aging on the lees leads to the minerality characteristic of French Chablis.
Per Janice Robinson, this is a "good, solid Chablis that ticks all the relevant stylistic boxes."
Per the distributor, this wine is named after the patron saint of Chablis, a former Roman cavalry officer turned Monk. Saint Martin is the flagship wine of Domaine Laroche, and they have been moving towards organic viticulture since 2010.
Partial fermentation occurs on 30 year old oak.
Visual: Hazy yellow with a tinge of copper hue. Swirls clean in the glass with few if any legs.
Aroma: Fresh cut green apples, crunchy pears, sea salt, ocean breeze, baked brie
Taste: Nice smooth tartness, like granny smith apples. Fresh and subtle mineral finish.
Pairing: Definitely a food wine over the premier Cru. Added a perk of lemon brightness to the tuna poke. The minerality matched the oysters but actually wasn't particularly amazing.
The acidity was a match to the fresh tomato in the lomi salmon. Didn't like the soy sauce or sugar in my beet poke. It did tickle with the spice and pickled ginger in the tako poke.
I also tried this wine with Chinese style "steamed" black cod. It accented the meal kind of like a squeeze of lemon, of which there is none in the dish.
#2 - 2018 Domaine Vocoret Chablis 1er Cru "Les Vaillons"
13% alcohol, $40
Background: Vaillon comes from the Latin word "valley" where these vineyards are located. Established in 1870, this family wine house is now farmed by the 4th generation who follow sustainable agricultural practices.
2018 brought a hot summer and much better vintage for the region than previous years.
Visual: Bright almost daisy yellow with a lime green tinge and crystal clear. Really pretty swirl that tap dances in the glass!
Aroma: Too subtle for my nose.
Taste: Elegant and understated. Lots of mineral but not in an overpowering way, just like a whiff of sea breeze. Finish slips off in the distance like an egg yolk sunset.
Sold to me as a "next level" Chablis and definitely felt elevated from the Domaine Laroche.
Pairing: Since it is so delicate, I might pair this in the future with just some raw ebi spot prawn sashimi.
Not great with the tuna poke but did accentuate the soy sauce in my beets surprisingly. Accented the fresh oysters with a tiny pop of acidity.
Softly hugged and warmed the spice and ginger in the tako poke.
I also later tried this wine with smoked salmon and roast chicken. The saltiness balanced with the acidity in the wine and accentuated the smokiness in the salmon. With roast chicken didn't do much with this wine except add a lemon pop. It wasn't bad but wasn't oustanding either.
Chablis Pairing Takeaways
As with all my wine pairing experiments, all I can do is try and learn for the the next time. Here is a summation of this "very important" research:
- Skip the oysters? Neither of the two Chablis I tried particularly cared for the classic pearl of the sea pairing. They worked but weren't amazing (sadly).
- Chablis seems to get better with price, and maybe age? I have not had aged Chablis, but I would definitely pay the extra dollars for a Premier Cru Chablis over a less expensive Petit Chablis.
- Try pairing Chablis with pickled ginger! The minerality in the wine is a nice foil to the pucker punch of paper thin ginger and can also handle a little heat from Japanese shichimi togarashi dried pepper spice.
- Chablis and Japanese food continue to work for me as a pairing darling duo.
- #Goals - The next time I try Chablis, I think I will have to cross the $50 threshold to try an expression that is more aged and precise and less perky and pronounced. (Broke may be part of this equation too.)
Learn more about Chablis
Read more about this famed French Chardonnay wine from the #winophiles:
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing gives us All Things #PureChablis with an Assortment of Seafood Snacks’ by Chinese Food and Wine Pairings.
- Camilla is Learning About Chablis, A Compelling Label, and Gougères at Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen makes A Poke Quartet Paired with a Duo of Chablis.
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! will be Remembering a Walk in Chablis over Dinner.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass is Keeping it Simple with #PureChablis.
- Chablis and Grilled Shrimp; Summertime must be near for Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm.
- Scallops with Pesto and Chablis are in the kitchen with David at Cooking Chat.
- Jane will be Tasting Chablis: Food and Wine Pairings over at Always Ravenous.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles is Savoring Premier Cru Chablis as We Hope for Good News for the 2021 Chablis Vintage.
- Nicole at the Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Aged Drouhin Vaudon Grand Cru Chablis with Swordfish Sandwiches.
- Rupal the Syrah Queen explores The Elegance of Chablis – Pure Terroir, Pure Joy, Pure Chablis.
- The Sea in Chablis and the Tragedy of Premox in William Fevre is the topic at Wine Predator with Gwendolyn.
- Payal at Keep the Peas discusses The Singularity of Chablis.
- Host Jill on L'Occasion, gives the scoop on Here’s How I Know It’s Chablis.
Rupal Shankar says
I do love Chablis and Oysters but you are right, not original or unique. Love the idea of picked ginger. Will give it a try.
Wendy Klik says
What wonderful pairings. I'm sure the wine paired nicely with the spices of the food.
Nicole Ruiz Hudson says
Love to see the comparisons of what worked and what didn't – although I am super surprised re. the oysters. I'm definitely going to have experiment with pickled ginger and poke! I also love your evocative tasting notes in this post. And as a semi-shameless plug, it just happens that I looked at aged Chablis in my post this month!
Linda Whipple, CSW says
Love how the wine "Softly hugged and warmed the spice and ginger in the tako poke." I've never tasted poke or, for that matter, premier or grand cru Chablis. I need to get over the price and just do it!
I love poke and appreciate you exploring how these flavors paired with the Chablis', so I can pick the best pairing. I will definitely try it with pickled ginger!
Pinny Tan says
Love the steam black cod, so spot-on with the Laroche Chablis. I totally agree that fresh oysters paired with Chablis is good but too ‘classic’ and not exciting. I haven’t yet tried a premier cru or grand cru.