Cooking to the Wine: Aged Drouhin Vaudon Grand Cru Chablis with Swordfish Sandwiches (#Winophiles)

Greg and I are standing in the kitchen in the middle of the afternoon with our noses each in a glass. I’ve entrapped Greg into participating. He surfaced briefly from his office and his day full of meetings and I pounced on the opportunity to rope him into tasting with me. Believe it or not, this often takes more coaxing than you might imagine. He’s got a great palate, but understandably, he doesn’t always feel like reveling in wine-geekiness as I do. Despite this, and somewhat to his detriment, he makes a great sounding board for my pairing ideas. 

I’d been contemplating what to pair with the aged Chablis in our glasses for a couple of hours. One of the reasons I love doing these “Cooking to the Wine” posts is that by starting with the wine, I often come up with ideas for dishes way outside our usual repertoire and it’s much better than anything I might have come up with in advance. Sadly, I can’t take the credit this time.


I was just about to start hitting Greg with my thoughts when he gets a particular look on his face that makes me think that he’s about to make a sarcastic quip. I brace myself. Instead, his expression shifts again a second later and he shoots out: “A swordfish sandwich on a buttered brioche bun with Asian pickles or slaw.” 

It was such a complete and direct thought, shot out so quickly after tasting the wine, that it completely surprised me. Some muse was clearly speaking through him! Like I said, he’s usually great to brainstorm with, but the ideas are not typically so fully formed right off the bat. With inspiration striking like a lightning bolt from on high, I clearly had no choice but to run with it. The muse didn’t lead us astray. It was an awesome pairing. 

Poor Greg. This is how he keeps getting himself roped into my projects. 



We’ve explored Chablis a few times on this blog, and in-depth here and here. I invite you to take a look at either of those posts for more background on this subregion of Burgundy. Chablis produces unique Chardonnays that are famous for their steely minerality that’s often tinged with notes of crushed oyster shells. 

Since we’ve looked at the basics of the region before, I thought this time I’d do something a little different and explore how this wine ages. A wine that’s known for its intense steel rail minerality might not seem like an obvious candidate for long-term aging beyond a few years to let the wine's intense acidity chillax. Nonetheless, my understanding had always been that the top-tier examples can do it and they often evolve a completely different flavor profile. The fruit notes become more rounded out and golden over time, moving from crisp, green apples, lemon, and lime, to golden apples, apricots, tangerines, and oranges. Nuts and other savory notes also join the party, while the wine’s minerality remains. 

The following descriptions from Vivino lay out how the flavors of Chablis evolve over time in more detail: 

  • 1-3 years: Fresh lemon and green apple citrus aromas will be prominent with a backbone of white florals. Other savory aromas at this stage will include white mushroom, yogurt or crème fraîche. And always with Chablis, you have a salty oyster liquor or sea spray aroma. Chablis is undeniably youthful at this stage, but usually quite appealing, particularly the Village wines.

  • 3-7 years: The Premier and Grand Cru wines will begin to fully integrate in this age window, and the balance of fruit and savory aromas in the wine will be at its most even. The wines will often begin to display a slight nutty (hazelnut, chestnut) aroma. Cheesy aromas will also become more prominent.

  • 7-12 years: Savory flavors will begin to overtake fruit at a rapid pace, but if you like your wines more savory than fruity, many of these wines will still be improving to your taste. Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines are the best candidates for improvement. Village wines will almost all be on the decline.

  • 12-15+ years: Only the best wines from top producers will still be improving.

I had a good intellectual understanding of all of this, but I’d never actually experienced it for myself. I really like Chablis’ youthful notes of brine and steel, and these work so well with seafood that most bottles I buy don’t last in the house very long. I also don’t usually have many examples that would be good candidates for aging. . .  except for two. I’ve been holding onto a couple of bottles in “my cellar” with precisely the idea of tasting just what happens. I decided it was time to pop one open! 

My bottle for this very scientific experiment was the Joseph Drouhin Drouhin-Vaudon Vaudésir Grand Cru Chablis 2013. Since I don’t have tasting notes of my own for this wine’s early years, I’m going to borrow two examples to give us an idea of where this wine started:

  • Wine Enthusiast: “The great flavor intensity comes from the sunny side of Vaudésir. The wine is rich, yet crisp and packed with lemon and apple fruits, a touch of spice and a steely, young aftertaste. It needs to age, so drink this from 2018.” - Roger Voss

  • Wine Spectator: “Offers alluring aromas of ripe apple, floral and citrus, with flavors of mineral and lemon. This white is harmonious and intense, lingering with vibrant acidity that frames the herb and stone accents. Excellent length. Drink now through 2020.” - Bruce Sanderson 

Fast forward eight years from the wine’s vintage and the flavors have definitely evolved. On the nose, there are notes of bruised apples, preserved Meyer lemons, along with a little grapefruit zest. Peaches and apricots are hiding behind the citrus, along with toasted almonds, as well as a dusting of earthy spices and herbs like curry powder and saffron. Greg added that it also had a honeyed note on the nose that made him think the wine was going to be sweet – it was not.

I thought the palate was really interesting and it really took me for quite a ride. Rather than subsiding, the fruit remained very present, in fact, it was more like it had expanded, rounded out, and intensified, rather than being crisp, snappy, and precise. The flavors were similar to those that hit me on the nose –– gold apples, apricots, Meyer lemons, and oranges – and they now had a tangy quality about them. There were some oxidative nutty notes, as well as a sprinkling of the earthy herbs and spices like chamomile, turmeric, coriander, and saffron. Greg added that there was a note that made him think of tart green grapes that had somehow become meaded. The briny flavor I expect from good Chablis was always there, but it took a step back and became more of an undercurrent that rose up at the end to carry the finish.

It was definitely complex and it took us a minute to wrap our heads around the wine. My internal monologue probably went something like this: “Oh that’s interesting! . . . also, kind of  weird. Good interesting or bad interesting? Huh, not sure  . . . Do I like this? Still not sure. . . . No, wait . . .  yeah, yeah I do like this. In fact, I really like this! Gimme more!”

This may sound crazy, but I also think this wine kind of tasted like this sunset.

In this post, you'll find another Grand Cru bottle I opened a few years ago that had 6 years of age at the time, as a point of comparison.  I also have a bottle of another 2013 still on my wine rack, so maybe we’ll check back in another few years and see how that evolves further. 



Joseph Drouhin is a large operation with vineyards throughout Burgundy, and they also have Domaine Drouhin in Oregon. It’s also family-owned and now in its fourth generation. While they have sizable holdings, they put a strong emphasis on farming conscientiously, and all of their estate vineyards in Burgundy were converted to organic farming by the late 1990s, were certified by Ecocert in 2009, and are now mostly farmed biodynamically. We compared bottles of their Pinots from Burgundy and Oregon in this post from last November, and I went into more detail on the company and family history in there. 

Joseph Drouhin was originally from Chablis, so it’s fitting that his grandson Robert would decide to expand the family’s holding in Burgundy by purchasing vineyards in Chablis. At the time, in the 1960s, that Robert Drouhin began buying land in Chablis, a lot of the vineyard land had been abandoned. He was at the forefront of revitalizing the area. Their headquarters in Chablis is the Moulin de Vaudon, an 18th Century watermill straddling the Serein River, close to the Grand Cru vineyards of Chablis. The company decided to begin adding the name “Vaudon” to their wines from Chablis as of the 2008 vintage, as a sign of allegiance with their historical terroir. 

Photo borrowed from Joseph Drouhin's website.

The Chablis Grand Cru is interesting in that all of the vineyards are located on one single southwest-facing hillside, just outside the town of Chablis on the right bank of the Serein River. It’s all considered one single appellation, but it’s divided into seven official climats, are basically specific vineyard sites with unique characteristics: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir. Altogether, Grand Cru Chablis wine makes up about 1% of the region’s production.

Image borrowed from

Vaudésir’s wines are known for their elegance and tend to be softer than other Grand Crus, with floral characteristics to balance Chablis' minerality. The vineyard is shaped like an amphitheater. Its particular location on the slope makes it a bit of a heat trap in the summer so that the grapes tend to ripen nicely while maintaining acidity.  This gives the wines a balance that combines weight and minerality. Vaudésir’s soils feed into this effect. There tends to be a higher percentage of clay in the soils of this climat, but the Kimmeridgian soils the area is famous for still run beneath it. The combination of soils adds to the balance of richer fruit notes, while still having beautiful minerality. 


I’ve already told you what the wine tasted like to me and how we arrived at the idea of pairing it with a swordfish sandwich on a brioche bun. I executed on Greg’s thoughts and then elaborated on the idea by taking flavor notes I picked up on in the wine and adding them to a marinade for the swordfish – orange juice for the citrus tang, toasted sesame oil for nuttiness, turmeric, and ginger for the earthy aspects. While the dish had a vaguely Asian bent, this in no way was intended to be representative of any one cuisine. I just added flavors I thought would complement the wine. 

When I went to buy the fish and other ingredients for this dish, I happened upon this Turmeric-Ginger-Jalapeño Sauerkraut from Local Cutlure and I thought the flavor combination would be perfect, and an ideal stand-in for the requested “Asian pickles or slaw.” I also found several recipes online for similar sauerkraut including this one and this one

If I hadn’t come across this, I was planning to make a broccoli slaw with a peanut or sesame-ginger dressing, and I do this that would’ve still worked well. The sauerkraut added an extra delicious dose of tang, and a little Kewpie mayonnaise added a little extra creamy decadence.

Altogether, this was an incredibly easy dinner to make and it still felt decadent and special enough to match the wine. The flavors all worked really together, and the combination of richness and brininess in the wine was ideal to stand up to a stronger fish like swordfish. The buttery brioche buns also played off the richer notes in the wine beautifully. It was one of those pairings that had us MMMMMM-ing every couple of minutes. SO good and an A+ to Greg for coming up with the idea.

The swordfish would also be delicious served on its own, as shown here.


Before Greg gave me his idea, I was toying with ideas of savory curries of various kinds, as well as options involving saffron. I still think dishes with those flavors would be really good possibilities for this wine. 

Here are a few other dishes on this site that I think would go well:


I wouldn’t recommend serving an aged wine like this tooooo cold, because it will hide some of the fruit. In the case of a lot of aged wines, the fruit notes might be starting to fade, and the last thing you want to do is hide the fruit flavors that are still there. Just pull the bottle out about 20 minutes before you intend to drink it. I also went ahead and decanted it to help the wine open us as well. 


You can find a detailed tech sheet here.

Viticulture: Biological cultivation since 1990 and biodynamic cultivation since 1999. Only authorized products for biological cultivation are used.

Harvesting: by hand.

Pressing: very slow so as to respect the fruit. Juices from the last pressings are not retained.

Ageing: Used oak barrel (0% new wood) for 12 months.

seafood, sandwiches, swordfish
Servings: 4
By: Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Orange-Soy Marinated Swordfish Sandwiches

Orange-Soy Marinated Swordfish Sandwiches

Prep Time: 20 MinCooking Time: 15 MinTotal Time: 35 Min


For the swordfish
  • 1.25 to 1.5 lbs swordfish steak (5 to 6 oz per serving. You can cut a large steak into portions ahead of time, or after grilling. Cutting them ahead of time will make for a neater presentation, while keeping a large steak whole will be easier for grilling.)
  • Juice of one orange (optional, add a little bit of the orange zest to the marinade as well)
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ⅛ tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of coriander
  • Generous pinch of salt
For the sandwiches
  • 4 brioche buns
  • Butter
  • Mayonnaise, to taste (we used Kewpie mayo)
  • Turmeric-Ginger-Jalapeño Sauerkraut, store-bought or made, about a ¼ cup per sandwich or to taste (feel free to experiment with slaws or pickles with other Asian-inspired flavorings as well)


  1. Combine the orange juice (and zest if using), soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, turmeric, coriander, and salt in a bowl. Place the swordfish in the mixture, toss to coat, and allow it to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Lightly butter the brioche buns and warm in a toaster oven until very lightly toasted. Keep warm.
  3. Heat a greased grill pan (or grill) over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the swordfish and grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook on the second side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  4. Build your sandwiches by adding a little mayonnaise and piling on a little sauerkraut onto each bun, followed by a portion of swordfish. Serve.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @thesommstable on instagram and hashtag it #sommstable
Created using The Recipes Generator

For more on Chablis, check out these additional posts:


The rest of the French Winophiles blogging group (#Winophiles) is exploring Chablis this month, hosted by Jill of L'Occasion. Be sure to check out the rest of their posts:

Additional sources used for this post and extra reading:

This post contains affiliate links, including the following Amazon Associate links, from which I might receive a commission at no cost to you.



  1. That looks absolutely stunning. It's funny that my husband is the same way; he tolerates my wine pairing cajoling and grudingly gives me comments. But, when he does, they are right on! I haven't had swordfish in years. I'll have to give this a try soon.

    1. Isn't that funny?! At least they're both generally good sports about, or so it seems from your description. I can't recall the last time we had swordfish either! It's part of what made me surprised at his super specific dish rec.

  2. I love your dive into how these wines age. I never have a Chablis around long enough to age. Your pairing to the notes in the wine (I love the addition of sesame oil with the nutty notes in the wine) is great.
    I have a question that maybe you can answer. I opened a Premier Cru Chablis recently and felt like I got oak on the nose. It disappeared after a bit. I have heard that Bourgogne Chardonnays have been known for premature oxidation. Would that give a note that I might misconstrue as oak, maybe I was getting something more like cheese and not associating it correctly? Do you have any insights on this?

    1. Thank Robin! And possibly. To be honest, I don't know enough about Premox to speak much to that side of things, but while not super common, there are producers that use new oak for their wines at the Premier Cru and Grand Cru level, and more yet that use used oak (note this one was made in a neutral oak) -- so you might not have been imagining it at all. It might be worth trying to find the tech sheet just to see if you're right. Other than that, I could absolutely see misconstruing oxidative notes or lees notes (I feel like the cheesy notes are usually related to lees or possibly malo) as oak – I feel like I've definitely had that response to those notes myself.

  3. Love how you detailed out the herbs and spices notes..."a sprinkling of the earthy herbs and spices like chamomile, turmeric, coriander, and saffron", making me "tasting" the wine. The internal monologue vividly captures what most wine people do when they taste an intriguing wine. Tasting a Grand Cru Chablis is on my bucket list, and the aged Drouhin Vaudon seems to be a good choice! By the way, when I searched for this wine on Google, this blog showed up on the top 5 searches. Congrats!

    1. Wow! Thanks so much letting me know that Pinny, as well as for the kind words.

  4. Would love, love, love to taste an aged Grand Cru Chablis! Greg's pairing idea was so amazing. Sometimes it's best not to overthink it, right?

    1. Absolutely! Especially when the idea comes so fully formed. Thanks Linda.

  5. Fascinating experiment on aging the wine, and kudos for holding on to it for this long! I must say that as much as I appreciate the warm oxidative and nutty notes of aged Chablis, I also really love the fresh juiciness of young Chablis. I've never thought of making fish into a sandwich - looks amazing!

    1. Thanks Payal, and yes, I generally feel the same way, which is why only two have made it this long! LOL

  6. Wow, what an amazing superpower Greg has! Very impressed by the very specific food pairing and that it actually did go well together! I feel like I'm wrong more than half the time. So glad I could live vicariously through your tasting notes of the grand cru. It will be awhile before I plan to cough up for one. Vive la France! :)

    1. LOL Actually, I'd argue that this is normally my super power, but Greg brought the game this time, and game recognize game. HAHAHA

  7. Great story and fun pairing! And amazing that I found and tasted a version of this wine -- younger and less special -- but only $13 at Costco!

  8. Joseph Drouhin is iconic for Chablis. What a treat to have an aged Grand Cru Chablis. Great pairings, I would love to attempt to make the orange soy swordfish. Sounds delish.

  9. Love your opening with Greg or his muse coming up with "the" pairing for this aged Grand Cru. So much great information about Chablis in this post especially the aging of the Premier Cru and Grand Cru wines. Your post is bookmarked for future reference!


Thanks so much for leaving your comments and questions. I always love to hear from you!