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May 23, 2014 08:29 PM

In and around Chablis, late April 2014: L'Hostellerie des Clos, Le Bistrot des Grands Crus, and Signé Chablis

After a rejuvenating lunch minutes from CDG (, we made our way to the A6, and eventually Chablis, where we finally found the delightful chambre d’hote, La Maison du Moulin de Roches, http://www.chablis-maisondumoulindesr..., a 15-20 minute walk over small rivers and streams to the center of town and its restaurants. The helpful and engaging young proprietor, Thierry Grandet (we met his wife, Anne, only as we were departing), made all dining reservations for us after we consulted by email. Dinner at Le Bistrot des Grands Crus was good, but not great-- (it’s hard to forgive one of the two eggs in the meurette being hard boiled). The two standout dishes: Fish stewed in Chablis, and Andouillette de Chablis. There was a decent selection of local namesake wines in demis.

Dinner at L'Hostellerie des Clos, , was about what we expected: Elegant, rather formal (but not too stuffy), and costy. We asked to be seated as far as possible from a loud and large group of fellow Californians who were enjoying an organized wine and dining tour. Standout: One of us got the “menu morilles,” featuring three dishes exploiting that favorite fungus. There’s a pretty good selection of demis; we had a Chablis grand cru and a nearby Irancy. Looking back at the 18 dinners and lunches we had on this trip (we still lost weight because we walked so much -- including all of Chablis’ seven grand crus), this evening, although pleasant and good, did not make the top five in terms of overall enjoyment. We suspect, like mangeur, that we are increasingly drawn to places with more “soul.” And we found a few of those later in the trip . . . .

Perhaps our highlight of food and wine in Chablis was our light lunch of bread, sausage and cheese, along with an organized wine tasting session of the four grades (petit Chablis, Chablis, 1er, and grand cru) at “Signé Chablis,” This is a new wine shop on the main street, where you can taste with simple foods and buy wines from many (about 100?) producers in the area. We were very well entertained and educated there by one of the proprietors, Guillaume Bardet. -- Jake

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  1. well now, you are in one of my favorite French towns. Wish I'd known you were going. I'd have steered you towards the wonderful winemaker, Samuel Billaud.

    We loved staying at Hostellerie des Clos. The food is good, too! We had a couple of lovely informal meals in the town, tho I can't recall the names of the places.

    The tour and tasting at Domaine LaRoche is one that will be remembered forever. Life changing!

    4 Replies
    1. re: ChefJune

      Chef June, we are in sync. Two of the Chablis producers in our home cellar are Domaine Billaud-Simon, , which we walked past on the way into town from our Chambre d'hote, and Domaine Samuel Billaud. I'm sure you know this story:!samuel-bil.... We attempted to set up in advance cellar visits and tours in Chablis, but for various reasons that did not work out. We did however have two tours, of other producers in our home cellar, a few days later, over in the cote de Nuits -- and I will mention those in a subsequent post. I will also attach here a few pictures from the Hostellerie des Clos. On reflection, and looking back at this dinner again, it really was very very good. DCM, will you name the cheeses? -- Jake

      1. re: Jake Dear

        Yes, I know the story, Jake. and I won't buy Billaud-Simon anymore as a result. Sorry you didn't get to taste with Samuel. That was a truly lovely experience. Hope to do it again this coming fall.

        1. re: Jake Dear

          Very tough from such small pieces but will try

          First plate from 12:00 clockwise

          Soumartraine if was gentle; Epoisses if strong

          Second plate from 12:00 clockwise

          St Nectaire or old Bethmale

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            DCM, your knowledge is better than our combined memories. Can't really recall either WTFs, but think the first was local chevre of some kind. (They had two carts -- one specifically dedicated to local chevre.) Epoisses it was; and I think the third on the last plate must have been Bethmale, because I know it was not St Nectaire. (PS, click on the photos to see enlarged.)

      2. Happiness is nitpicking. La Moutonne is the eighth Grand Cru of Chablis bottled by Long-Depaquit.
        It consists of parcels of Vaudesir and Preuses.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

          “Happiness is nitpicking.”

          I hate to be even more picky, but this is not entirely true.

          La Moutonne is wine from a parcel of Grand Cru that is situated partly in Vaudesir and Preuses, and is a monopoly owned by Domaine Long-Depaquit (Albert Bichot). However, it is technically not an 8th Grand Cru.

          The Grand Cru designation given under the AOC system by INAO is really for the plots of land (appellations/climats). Labeling is further controlled by EEC legislation. In Chablis there are only the 7 (Bougros, Preuses, Vaudesir, Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos, and Blanchot). Some domaines have been given permission to bottle/lable things in a certain way, but it does not create a separate (recognized under the AOC system) appellation/climat, either Premier Cru or Grand Cru.

          There are many examples of this “oddity” thoughout Burgundy. The most surprising to me as I continue to learn about Burgundy is in Aloxe-Corton. There are really only 2 recognized Grand Cru under the Corton banner, Corton and Corton-Charlemagne. Labels like Corton Clos du Roi, Corton Renardes, Corton Clos des Meix, Corton Bressandes, etc. are all just really under the Corton recognized Grand Cru appellation, but they are all from separate recognized lieu-dits (also a term for plots of land). Another one I often see in the US is at the Premier Cru level – Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils have a Beaune Vigne L’Enfant Jesus, which is really from Beaune Greves.

          As my friend always says, “Burgundy is complex.” Too right!

          1. re: DaTulip

            Technically not from the 19th C, but functionally and labelwise it is.
            In the Master Sommelier exam, they invariably ask what are the 8 Grand Crus of Chablis, thus always including La Moutonne.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Curious! Do they only include the two appellations for Corton/Corton-Charlemagne or do they break down the AOC designation there as well?

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Very interesting. This will make me consult my Jasper Morris and Clive Coats books. In the meantime, I'll attach a photo of the vineyard tour map, # 2 below. At least one of these maps is posted on a sturdy weatherproof sign atop each of the "seven" (!?!) vineyards. (With cross hatches showing the vineyard where you are located.) I'll also attach photos taken (1) from the steep slopes of Vaudesir, looking northeast; and (3) from the intersection of Les Clos and Blanchot, with the town of Chablis in the background.

              2. re: DaTulip

                But that's not just a Burgundian phenomenon, though, is it? A couple of Alsatian examples spring immediately to mind: in the Rangen, you have lieux-dits Clos St Urbain and Clos St Theobald, and Clos St Imer in the Goldert.

                I am no historian, but I suspect this is what happens when you try to impose a relatively recent classification scale onto a naming system which has existed for far longer, and an uneasy accommodation results.

                1. re: Julian Teoh

                  But l thought the Clos referred to walled vineyards in grand cru status regardless of producer making the wine.

                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    Clos is a walled or partially walled vineyard and is regardless of producer. It does not have to be a Grand Cru though. It could be any walled lieu dit.

                    1. re: DaTulip

                      " It does not have to be a Grand Cru though. It could be any walled lieu dit."

                      As, for example, the 1er Gevrey vineyard, Le Clos St Jacques -- with its lovely northern wall sketched by Thomas Jefferson. Also, during our walks in Chablis and the Cote d'Or we saw quite a few named "clos" that had lost most or all of their walls, and indeed for some we could not find even partial walls -- the famed Les Clos, of Chablis, being one of them (see picture above, pas de walls, at least from above).

                    2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Agreed with DaTulip and Jake Dear below, but to avoid clouding the discussion with the Clos issue, examples also exist of a non-clos lieu-dit being named on the label, e.g. Armand Hurst's Grand Cru Brand, Schneckelsbourg.

                      What I don't want to do is engage in a discussion about whether the Clos Ste Hune was ever actually walled ;)