The Intricacies of Pairing Chablis with Food: Four Distinct Appellations offer Delectable Diversity


What foods pair with Chablis? Well, lucky for us, this region produces some of the most food friendly wines in the world, so we’ll have a lot of choices that span from seafood, to shellfish and chicken. At a recent tweet-up, I had the pleasure to taste and compare notes with Charlie Bird’s Chef Ryan Hardy and Wine Director Arvid Rosengren on the intricacies of pairing Chablis.  We were able to pull together some amazing tips to find great matches from the four appellations where Chardonnay grows in the northern Burgundy region.

chablis wine map

The region is sub-divided into four appellations within the northern district of Burgundy, with each area producing interesting, delicious, food friendly wine.

Chablis percentages of sub-regions


Petit Chablis wines are tart and acidic, with citrus flavors. They should be enjoyed cold and drank within a year or two after release.  Most of the Chardonnay from this region are inexpensive gems that pair perfectly with many different foods—from shellfish to fish and chips, to prawns with garlic and butter. Chicken is also a great option, especially when paired with cream and mustard sauces, because the fresh and lively Chablis cuts through the fat. For this category, we tasted a ’15 La Chablisienne Chablis Pas Si Petit:

2015 La Chablisienne Petit Chablis Pas Si Petit ($15)
This Chardonnay is fresh and lively with traditional apple, lemon, and citrus flavors. Finishing lean and clean, at $15 a bottle, it’s a great bargain! The quality-to-price ratio (QPR) is off the charts. For this wine, both Chef Ryan Hardy and Wine Director Arvid Rosengren agreed that oysters would make a really great match. And yes, the pairing was a hit!

La Chablisienne


Chablis, on the other hand, has a bit more minerality and richness, often derived from the chalky soils known as Kimmeridgian. The wines pair well with richer seafood dishes, seared scallops or salmon and halibut, or even veal and chicken served with beurre blanc sauces. For this region, we poured the ’14 Domaine Roland Laventureux Chablis Vauprin:

2014 Domaine Roland Laventureux Chablis “Vauprin” ($26)
Vauprin is a vineyard located in the village of Lignorelles and is one of the highest altitude parcels in Chablis. This small, low yielding plot produced a wine that has a lot going on in the bottle—apple and lemon flavors that finishes long and strong with complex mineral notes.

Chef Hardy paired it with classic razor clams served in their shells with fennel fronds and neonata sauce, which consists of icefish, extra-virgin olive oil, and some hot and sweet peppers. The clams are steamed briefly with chile, garlic and white wine, and then tossed with fennel, lemon juice, salt and olive oil.

‘14 Dom. Roland Laventureux Chablis Vauprin


Razor clams served in their shells with fennel fronds and neonata sauce

shrimp and tuna salad

Enobytes Chef Marc paired this wine with a simple shrimp and tuna salad, which accentuated the minerality in the wine


Chablis Premier Cru makes up 14% of the Chablis vineyards. Known for producing reliable buys that need a little airing and aging before consuming, the aromas are highly complex and flavors are rich, consisting of lemon, flint and starfruit flavors. Once again, you can’t go wrong with fish or chicken, as well as sausages, ham and snails. Chablis Premier Cru really showcases how versatile this wine is when paired with food. We tried two different wines in this category. The first was a ‘15 Domaine Daniel Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons:

2015 Domaine Daniel Dampt Chablis Premier Cru “Vaillons” ($32)
Smooth and clean, this Premier Cru with luscious quince, almond, apple and mineral notes finishes with a tinge of bitterness on the end. For pairing, we seared some scallops and added a fava bean puree. The apple notes really jumped out of the glass with this pairing.

2015 Domaine Daniel Dampt Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons


Chef Marc’s scallops with fava bean puree

Fluke Crudo with espelette, lime and tangy olive oil.

Chef Hardy made a wonderful Fluke Crudo with espelette, lime and tangy olive oil. This pairing really accentuated the zesty, almond bitterness in the wine

We tasted a second wine from this appellation, a ’14 William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume:

2014 William Fèvre Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume ($45)
This wine has layers of melon, apple, lemon and spice that dance on a stony, mineral backbone. It’s a spectacular representation of what Chablis is and should be!  Buy it, drink it, and love it. We paired it with two completely different dishes, and both went well. Chef Hardy selected a little neck clam pizza, and Chef Marc made grilled halibut served with lightly dressed greens.


Grilled halibut served with lightly dressed greens


Chef Hardy’s little neck pizza combined briny and umami-rich clams with cream and broccoli rabe baked in a 900 degree oven


The appellation Chablis Grand Cru is a single entity but divided between seven plots. The vines grow on Marls and Kimmeridgian limestone vineyards, which are located across the Serein River from the village of Chablis. The region produces wines with vitality, and are vastly different in flavors—from fresh and transparent—to racy, dense, savory and elegant. Sampling the wines are exciting, because styles differ so much from producer to producer. Broad culinary applications include simple boiled or grilled lobster, to fish or chicken in cream and mushroom sauces—to foie gras, veal and sweetbreads.

For this pairing, we went with a ’14 Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis Grand Cru Valmur and tried three different food preparations: a traditional steamed lobster, a French inspired à la meunière with capers and cauliflower, and a nontraditional dish—an Asian inspired grilled tuna with mango chutney, and Napa cabbage slaw. The Grand Cru wine really shined when paired with the intense Asian flavors, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch. The key was finding a food that could live up to the wines’ vitality. And guess what? Unconventional won this time! Here are the tasting notes and pairings:

2014 Jean-Claude Bessin Chablis Grand Cru, “Valmur” ($54)
Many consider the Valmur vineyard site to represent the best expression of Chardonnay in Chablis, often showcasing steely and dense wines that are made for ageing. This 2014 vintage showcases this expression with beautiful vitality. The citrus plays in unison with delicate mineral notes playing in the background.


A la meuniere with capers and cauliflower

Chef Hardy made a beautiful French inspired à la meunière with capers and cauliflower


Traditional steamed lobster is a great match with Grand Cru Chablis. You’ll be thrilled with the pairing

Asian inspired grilled tuna dish with mango chutney, and Napa cabbage slaw.

The grilled tuna dish with mango chutney, and Napa cabbage slaw went equally well, playing off the wines’ vitality and mineral notes

The bottom line is to pull some Chablis corks and experiment with pairings. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many combinations work to your liking!

Cheers until next time.


About the Author:

Editor and co-founder of, Pamela is a sommelier and former restaurant manager and wine buyer with Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Court of Master Sommeliers & Center for Wine Origins certification. She has contributed to or been quoted by various publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Sommelier Journal, Vegetarian Times, VIV Magazine, UC-Berkeley Astrobiology News, The Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and USA Today. True to her roots, she seeks varietal and appellation integrity and is always passionate about finding the next great bottle of wine.


  1. Robin Renken December 10, 2016 at 11:48 AM - Reply

    What a wonderful and detailed set of pairings. This is inspiration to taste and pair through all the categories of Chablis.

    • Pamela Heiligenthal December 10, 2016 at 5:26 PM - Reply

      Hey Robin, I’m thrilled you found it inspirational. Its fun trying wines from each appellation to taste the differences between them. It would make for a fun wine party too!

  2. Kevin Cleary, DipWSET, FWS December 10, 2016 at 12:18 PM - Reply

    Love Chablis. This sounds like it was a wonderful experience. The pairings were perfect. Le Chablisienne is one of my favorite producers in the region. Phenomenal wines. You should try their St. Bris!

    • Pamela Heiligenthal December 10, 2016 at 5:29 PM - Reply

      St. Bris, awesome suggestion! I found a wine shop in Seattle that can ship it. Thanks for the reco Kevin.

  3. Tom Zacharia December 10, 2016 at 1:09 PM - Reply

    Never thought to have such in depth pairings. Great choices!

    • enobytes December 11, 2016 at 3:30 PM - Reply

      Thanks Tom! We had way too much food left over so next time there will be a party invite :)

  4. Casey @ December 10, 2016 at 2:58 PM - Reply

    I absolutely love a good Chablis and by goodness those food matches sound and look divine. Craving Chablis and seafood now at 7am!

  5. Jessie Kelly December 10, 2016 at 3:54 PM - Reply

    Love these pairings! Always perfect to have a chablis with seafood

  6. AJ December 11, 2016 at 5:14 AM - Reply

    I have only just started drinking chablis (more of a red wine drinker). The thoughtfulness of the pairings is amazing. I can’t wait to get home to try some of these.

  7. Jenna December 11, 2016 at 9:10 AM - Reply

    I love the details you provide in these pairings. I can imagine a Chablis would be a good choice with the seafood we often eat when we visit the CA and WA coasts.

    • enobytes December 11, 2016 at 9:32 AM - Reply

      Very good choice Jenna! We live on the West Coast, and so we eat a lot of seafood here. Crabcakes are another option that work really well, and besides the Chabis, Oregon Pinot gris goes well. Here is the crab cakes recipe

  8. Sarah Stierch December 11, 2016 at 9:18 AM - Reply

    Now I want Chablis and seafood. It is one of the best varietals for pairing with tasty underwater morsels!

  9. Allison Wallace December 11, 2016 at 12:44 PM - Reply

    Great article! A reminder that a) we need to drink more Chablis & b) to always try with pairings, you never quite know what might surprise you. Thanks for the terrific pairing ideas.

    • enobytes December 11, 2016 at 3:31 PM - Reply

      Thanks for the kudos Sarah and Allison!

  10. Winederlusting December 11, 2016 at 5:08 PM - Reply

    Love this breakdown! Chablis is one of my favorite regions to pair with seafood. The acidity and citrus flavors are some of my favorite in Chardonnay across the globe. The French inspired pairings, from the grilled tuna with mango chutney (seriously?!!), are literally making my mouth water. Will be reverting back here on my next Chablis tasting :).


    • Pamela Heiligenthal December 11, 2016 at 7:21 PM - Reply

      Thanks Wunderlusting! The mango chutney was killer, although, I was a bit weary how it would pair until we tasted it with the wine. We should schedule a Chablis food and wine event together!!!! Happy holidays.

  11. Matthew Ford December 18, 2016 at 8:27 PM - Reply

    I can’t describe how useful this articles is. It’s thorough write-ups like this that make me love the wine community.

  12. Laura Jeffrey January 18, 2017 at 3:53 PM - Reply

    Wonderful, I am so excited to open my recent purchases of a trifecta of Patrick Piuze, Grand Cru, Premier and Village wine. I think the food is inspiring.

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