Can you recommend a dry French chablis for an important buerre blanc?
I'm trying to replicate a beautiful buerre blanc that involved provencal herbs (heavy on the lavender) and a gorgeous almost bitter twist from the wine, which I'm told was a chablis. (It almost reminded me of the bitterness of a great real-Swiss cheese fondue with kirschwasser.)
What's a good (and not exorbitant) dry French chablis to use for a sauce like this? It was mentioned to me that American chablis will likely be too sweet and a fitting substitute might be a sauvingon blanc.
Lemon, minerals and acid -- not bitterness -- are normally associated with Chablis. And any bitterness a Chablis had would likely be overwhelmed by all that butter and all those herbs. Personally, I'd drink the Chablis and make the beurre blanc with a sharp, minerally, dry white. Some French Sauvignon Blancs would fill the bill, but most New World SBs wouldn't, due to their exuberant fruit and relatively high residual sugar levels.
If the wine that was used was a French Chablis, I'm pretty sure it was a simple one, and not a Premier Cru or better. I often cook with that kind of wine for just the occasion you've described. Actually, my "house White" is a French Chardonnay from a town just south of Chablis that retails for $11.99 a bottle. Love to drink it as well...... called Cuvée de Vezelay. Wines like this are sometimes hard to find. Cali Chardonnays are not good subs, One that is generally available is the Chardonnay called St. Veran, and Georges Duboeuf's is kinda all over most American wine shops. I use that one a lot, as well.
Well, so I browsed over to the henrydevezeley winery Website, and it encouraged e-mails. So I sent one off asking where in L.A. the Cuvee de Vezelay could be had. I got this prompt response back from a woman there - the last line is the kicker. :) <3
You may be able to purchase Henry de Vézelay at :
Pacific Coast WIne Marketing
16580 Harbour Bld., #G
The Henry WIne Group
These are the nearest two places I can think of. If not I'm afraid you'll just have to come to Burgundy...
Keep in mind that winery websites are RARELY accurate in terms of where you can buy the wine. There are just too many stores, and wines often come-and-go . . . Some domestic wineries are better able to list whatrestaurants have bought the wines, but these too are often inaccurate. But when it comes to wine producers outside the U.S., their websites usually list the importer or the wholesaler handling their wines.
The Henry Wine Group and Pacific Coast Wine Mktg. are California *wholesale* companies that an individual consumer couldn't purchase directly from anyway, but I wouldn't really expect a producer in France (or anywhere else for that matter) to track every single retail source across the U.S.
The wine used is not all that important. When making a beurre blanc, the wine is completely evaporated away -- the shallots and herbs are cooked with the wine until the wine has evaporated, to an "au sec" (meaning dry) stage.
The important ingredient in the liquid is the acid, needed to make the butter emulsion. Many beurre blancs are in fact made with vinegar, so the recommendations here to use an inexpensive wine are valid. A inexpensive white burgundy (chardonnay grape), a Macon, or (more expensively) 1/4 cup of the whatever wine you'll also be serving with dinner will work nicely. I especially like the idea of using the wine you'll also be serving with dinner. That always brings about a wonderful food and wine pairing.
It's a very good idea, as mentioned here, to find a reasonably priced, flavorful red and white wine that you consistently buy to cook with.
Last, getting the technique down on making a beurre blanc is great, but it can be slightly tricky. Once you've got the technique, venture out and make a lemon (lemon juice) beurre blanc (remember it's the acid you need), a wasabi beurre blanc, a lime-cilantro beurre blanc, and on and on as far as your imagination wants to take it. Perhaps do a practice run before your important dinner. Good luck and happy eating!
A very typical cooking wine in Paris at least is a Macon, red or white. Something from the Loire which is not too fruity would be great as would a Sancerre. A Sancerre is probably too much money. Some of the lighter Entre Deux Mers might work.
I, too, would never use a French Chablis to cook with. Does the recipe *specifically* say to use a FRENCH Chablis, or does it merely say the word "chablis" as in "1 c. chablis"? If it is the latter, remember that "chablis" is a semi-generic wine when used on American wines -- it is just a name, is totally meaningless, although it *suggests* a dry white.
French Chablis is made from the chardonnay grape , so what you need is the cheapest bottle of chardonnay that will work for your sauce...go to your liquor store or wine shop and ask for an inexpensive chardonnay that is not oaky and is minerally . I think that I would probably like to eat at your hose .
If you do use a Chablis, I hope you drink the remainder of the wine with the beurre blanc. One of the most perfect food/wine pairings I've experience was poached turbot fillets in beurre blanc served with a Chablis and crusty bread.
While I wouldn't normally cook with a French Chablis, my beurre blanc recipe only called for about 1/4 cup wine, so it was no great sacrifice. I agree that I'd stick with a white that's dry and fairly acidic, maybe a crisp macon or aligote?. There are Sauvignon Blancs from the Loire that are cheaper than Sancerre (like Quincy) that would wor? I would not use a New World SB--too much sugar.
Please post your provencal-lavender beurre blanc recipe once you've successfully replicated it! Do you suppose the bitter flavor came from the herbs instead of the wine?
That's my guess too. The bitterness must be coming from one of the herbs, perhaps
an unidentified one. Or some mystery ingredient. I don't think it's the wine, though.
Also, there are many provencal herb mixtures. The classic herbes de provence mixture contains chervil, chives, parsley and thyme. All the mixtures can vary in proportion, strength and aromatics.
Any chance of your contacting the original chef of your beurre blanc and getting a complete recipe, including herb breakdown?
re: maria lorraine
>The classic herbes de provence mixture contains chervil, chives, parsley and thyme.<
That's closer to the classic fines herbes mixture (chervil, tarragon, parsley and chives is the most common) than herbes de Provence (built around thyme and rosemary and often including lavender, bay, savoury, basil, etc.).
Carswell is correct. The chervil, chives, parsley, thyme combo is fines herbes.
An herbes de provence mixture can vary in its components, and Carswell identifies
the basic components above.
As far as the mysterious "bitter" flavor -- the whole reason for the herbs discussion --
perhaps investigating the individual herbs used might get you closer to the answer.
As well as asking about any "hidden" ingredients. Good luck, and thanks, Carswell.
You know, with so many good wine recommendations, I think I'm just going to have to plan to try them all!