Home > Tasting Notes and Wine Reviews > Pure Chablis Social at Brasserie Beck, Washington, DC

Pure Chablis Social at Brasserie Beck, Washington, DC


The wines of Chablis appear to not feature in American newspapers until 1822 when an extract of a private letter was published under the title A Parisian Breakfast.[1]  Here the distinguished meal featured white Hermitage, Chablis, Claret, Burgundy, Champagne and other wines.  In a series of articles reproduced from the London Magazine in the National Gazette during 1825, the sparkling and still white wines of England were compared to those of France.[2]  Depending upon “the relative proportions of sugar and vegetable matter employed” a wine might resemble those of Sauternes or even Chablis.  As for the wines of Chablis itself they were “so well known…inferior only to the Meursault of the Cote d’Or.”[3]  It was noted that some of the wines of Champagne were ranked with the wines of Burgundy.  One year later in a Table of the Principal Known Wines the white wines of Arbois, Papillon, and Chablis are stated as having 14.57 parts per hundred alcohol based on Mr. Brande’s results.

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It is not until 1827 that the wines of Chablis are listed for sale in America by Henry & Geo Barclay of New York City.[4]  The advertisements for Chablis become quite frequent such as those by G. E. Taylor of New York City in 1832.[5]  In addition to Madeira, Sherry, and Port he sold “Champaign, of very superior quality; Chambertin, Nuits, Volnay, Pourmard and Chablis.”  Despite the early sales of Chablis in New York City there is only one early advertisement in Washington, D.C.   This lists “Hock of Chablis (Rhenish)” in August 1839.[6]  It is not until 1859 that the wine merchants Hamilton & Leach offer the true product “Chablis, white” at their store three doors down from the National Hotel.[7]

The nineteenth century advertisements remain vague as to what type of Chablis was being sold both in New York City and Washington, D.C.  H. A. Seligson of 1200 and 1202 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW sold white Chablis at $12 per dozen as compared to $9.60 for Macon and $18.80 for Chambertin or even $3.20 for “Norton’s Virginia Seedling” wine.[8] Most of the other advertisements in Washington, D.C. are for the To-Kalon Wine Company chablis from California.[9]  It was recommended that “’To-Kalon Chablis and plate o’ raw’ is the proper language for your waiter.”[10] In New York the advertisements were dominated by H. Mouquin’s imported Chablis Mousseux from A. Simonnet.[11]

The wine lists at restaurants and hotels are scarce on details as well.  On May 18, 1852, The Revere House classified Chablis under “Sauterne” selling it for $2 per quart.[12]  In 1865 it is listed under “Hermitage” at $1.25 per quart.[13]  The Gilsey House sold “Chablis Ordinaire, Chablis” at $2.00 and “Chablis, white” at $3.00 per quart on April 28, 1889.[14]  Most wine lists of this period are even more vague and similar to that of the Charles Duppler’s Hotel.  Here they paired Blue Point Oysters on Half-Shell with Chablis on November 25, 1889.[15]

Jean-François Bordet and the author.

Jean-François Bordet and the author.

This past November I was fortunate to attend the Pure Chablis Social at Brasserie Beck.  This intimate dinner was hosted by Jean-François Bordet, President of the Chablis Wine Board and of Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, as well as Françoise Roure of Burgundy Wines.  The evening was coordinated by Marie-Christina Batich of Sopexa.  We enjoyed six wines with our dinner.  These included generic Chablis, Premier Cru, and Grand Cru wines from the 2011, 2010, and 2009 vintages.  The 2011 vintage was described by Jean- François as very fruit and present with a little less acidity, the 2010 vintage as a good classic, and 2009 featured the second warmest summer in Chablis.

The dinner was generous both in food and in wine.  I thought the three Premier Cru wines provided a good contrast.  The 2010 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume was quite attractive for its floral aromas and flavors.   The 2010 Simonnet-Febvre, Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons had good nerve from acidity with the 2010 Domaine Louis Moreau, Chablis Premier Cru Les Fourneaux riper and more mature.  The 2011 Domaine Servin, Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot was fresh and young, revealing an increase in quality of a Grand Cru vineyard.  The first bottle of 2009 Domaine Christian Moreau Père & Fils, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir showed more maturity with an obvious oak notes that distracted many.  A second bottle was fresher with better integration and was greatly enjoyed by all.  Please find my brief notes below.  For an account of the previous night’s dinner attended by Dave McIntyre(DM WineLine), Frank Morgan (Drink What YOU Like), David White (Terroirist), and others please read Christian Schiller’s Pure Chablis post.

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2011 La Chablisienne, Chablis La Pierrelée – $23
There were stones and acidity on the nose followed by a slightly weighty and round start.  There was a touch of acidity on the sides and tip of the tongue before the flavors turned a little drier and tart.  There were stone notes in the finish.

Chablis4

2010 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume  – $35
This was produced from 55 year old vines.  The nose was of berries and white flowers.  The perfume followed in the mouth.  Quite enjoyable.

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2010 Simonnet-Febvre, Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons  – $30
There was a lot of acidity with minerals and a little spice in the finish.  There was a persistent powdery grip in the aftertaste.  Enjoyably nervy.

Chablis2

2010 Domaine Louis Moreau, Chablis Premier Cru Les Fourneaux  – $27
The fruit was sourced from 45 year old vines.  There was initial acidity on the tongue before minerals came out.  There was grip in the middle, integrated acidity, and an almost petrol nose.  There was a gentle aftertaste.  This wine developed well in the glass taking on some ripe fruit.

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2011 Domaine Servin, Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot -$45
There was a fresh nose.  In the mouth were minerals and fresh fruit which stood out along with a smoky hint.  This was a definite step up in quality with the delicate, persistent aftertaste.

Chablis6

2009 Domaine Christian Moreau Père & Fils, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir – $65
This was clearly more aged with softer and mature notes at first.  The acidity then came out along with finely textured grip.  It showed more oak notes.  A second bottle was fresh and  reacted well to air.

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[1] Date: Thursday, December 12, 1822              Paper: National Gazette (Philadelphia, PA)   Page: 4
[2] Date: Tuesday, September 27, 1825              Paper: National Gazette (Philadelphia, PA)   Page: 2
[3] Date: Saturday, November 5, 1825                 Paper: National Gazette (Philadelphia, PA)   Page: 4
[4] Date: Monday, July 30, 1827            Paper: Evening Post (New York, NY)   Issue: 7808   Page: 1
[5] Date: Monday, March 12, 1832       Paper: American (New York, NY)   Volume: XII   Issue: 4115   Page: 4
[6] Date: Thursday, August 1, 1839       Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XXVII   Issue: 8256   Page: 3
[7] Date: Friday, December 16, 1859                   Paper: Daily National Intelligencer (Washington (DC), DC)   Volume: XLVII   Issue: 14779   Page: 2
[8] Date: Saturday, October 26, 1889                  Paper: Evening Star (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 6
[9] Date: Friday, October 7, 1892         Paper: Evening Star (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 1
[10] Date: Thursday, November 2, 1893               Paper: Evening Star (Washington (DC), DC)   Page: 3
[11] Date: Tuesday, July 10, 1883          Paper: Courrier des Etats-Unis (New York, NY)   Issue: 102   Page: 3
[12] Revere House, Boston, MA. May 18, 1851. URL: http://menus.nypl.org/menus/22229
[13] Revere House, Boston, MA. March 8, 1865. URL: http://menus.nypl.org/menus/21383
[14] Gilsey House.  April 28, 1889. URL: http://menus.nypl.org/menus/25211
[15] Charles Duppler’s Hotel, New York, NY. November 25, 1889. URL: http://menus.nypl.org/menus/24771
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