This month my fellow #winophiles are headed to Chablis, the northernmost part of Bourgogne making the purest expression of Chardonnay. Chablis may be one of my favorite regions when it comes to Chardonnay. The wines are steely, crisp, mineral-driven and a pure joy to sip. Grown on chalky mineral soils, Chablis is elegant, delicate and cerebral, a stark contrast to the oaky and fruity style of many new world Chardonnays. Pure Chablis is a pure joy, they are wines that express their pure terroir.
You may ask what is so special about Chablis? I mean it is simply Chardonnay, right? Well yes, but Chablis is much more. Chardonnay can only find its purest expression in Chablis. What makes Chablis so distinctive from other Chardonnays from around the world is its terroir. Upon your first sip of Chablis, you can immediately sense its purity. Chablis is where Chardonnay thrives and shows its best expression. Chablis is the only region where Chardonnay absorbs all the elements of terroir and its pureness.
There are so many descriptors that we can use. to describe Chablis; lean, racy, steely, crisp, austere, flinty, mineral-driven, delicate, cerebral, and zippy. Rarely will you find buttery, toasty or oaky as a characteristic. That is because in Chablis producers typically do not use new oak to age their wines.
You find Chablis Grand Cru and Chablis Premier Cru producers use old barrels, with the goal to impart oxygen into the wine, not oak characteristics. Many Chablis and Petit Chablis producers do not use any oak at all, instead opting for stainless steel. This allows for Chablis drinkers to experience Chardonnay in its purest sense. The wines are packed with citrus notes, hints of wildflowers, flinty minerality, zippy acidity and distinct salinity.
Chablis – Terroir
Chablis is the northernmost region of Bourgogne, making it the ideal cool climate for Chardonnay. With low temperatures and moderate sunshine, grapes ripen slowly, with more acidity and a delicate body. The soils are what make the wines so distinct and interesting. Two prominent soil types make up the region; Kimmeridgian and Portlandian soils.
The vines of Chablis are located in a sedimentary basin. The low-lying areas, once under the ocean, were gradually covered by the material that today makes up the soils and subsoils of Chablis. The subsoils of Chablis(typically premier cru and grand cru) are known as Kimmeridgian, which date back to the Upper Jurassic epoch, around 150 million years ago. On a walk through the vineyards, you will typically find remnants of the ocean floor with limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells. The Kimmeridgian soils impart the hallmark flinty minerality that you find in premier and grand cru wines of Chablis.
On the ridges and plateaux of Chablis are mostly Portlandian soils(typically Chablis and Petit Chablis). The soils are calcareous and marl with no fossil presence. The wines are more fruity in style with less minerality.
If you are an ABC(Anything But Chardonnay), I promise you Chablis may change you into another kind of ABC(Another Bottle of Chablis please). The region offers something for everyone. Petit Chablis’ are great value wines, they are the perfect choice for everyday sipping but still, give a true sense of terroir. Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis’ are very special wines that leave an impression on the palate. While they are more pricey than Petit Chablis, they offer great value compared to Chardonnay’s from other regions or even those from its southern neighbors, Cote de Beaune. Chablis continues to offer value that’s seemingly unmatched.
Here are five exceptional examples of Pure Chablis that comprise the entire Chablis pyramid.
Bernard Defaix Petit Chablis 2019
The Domaine Bernard Defaix et Fils is situated at the heart of the Chablisian vineyards in the village of Milly. Fourth-generation from a family of vine-growers, Bernard started in 1959 with 2 ha. Today, the domain spreads over 27 ha with half of the surfaces in Chablis1er cru.
This is a very stylish Petit Chablis with a pale yellow color. There are hints of lemon, pear and white peach. The wine is fresh with bright acidity and great energy. This wine is perfect as an appetizer, with seafood or to accompany a platter of cheese and charcuterie.
Domaine De La Cornasse Chablis 2019
Under the tutelage of their winemaker father Alain Geoffroy, daughters Sylvie, Nathalie and Aurelie have launched Domaine de la Cornasse: a new wine for a new generation. They produce 100% Chardonnay from the village of Chablis and Beauroy Premier Cru located on the favorable southwest facing slopes of Beines just outside the town of Chablis.
The wine has a pale gold color hue. It is bright and zippy with notes of florals and citrus on the palate. Nice minerality on the finish. A delicious pairing with fresh or baked oysters.
Jean-Marc Brocard Vielles Vignes de Sainte Claire Chablis 2019
Surrounded by Chablis vineyards on all sides, the family estate was founded in 1973 by Jean-Marc Brocard, who has since been joined by his son Julien. The estate spans almost 200 hectares, 66 of which are certified organic. Precision, power and freshness: these are the signature characteristics of Brocard wines.
There are bright pale yellow hues in the glass. Notes of green apple, citrus and hazelnut. A very attractive wine with nice acidity and firmness. Ideal pairing with poultry, mushroom tart and dry goat’s cheese.
Domaine Moreau–Naudet Chablis 1er Cru ‘Forets 2018
Domaine Moreau-Naudet is a great source for excellent, nonconformist Chablis. Taking cues from legendary producers like Raveneau and Dauvissat, Moreau-Naudet makes ripe, shapely Chablis that define minerality with deeply concentrated substance.
Notes of lemon and fresh citrus exude from the glass. Flinty and mineral-driven with a delicate texture. This is a highly engaging wine that leaves an impression. This is a wine that can be paired with a variety of foods. Try it with salads, pungent cheeses, or fresh seafood.
Patrick Piuze Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2018
Patrick Piuze has gone from managing a wine bar in his native Québec to becoming one of Chablis’ most prominent rising stars. In 2008, after working for Olivier Leflaive, Verget and Domaine Jean-Marc Brocard, Patrick started his own micro-négoce. Sourcing 20 hectares of old-vine fruit from respected growers throughout Chablis, he crafts over 20 cuvees, including grand cru, premier cru, single-village wines, a Petit Chablis.
There is a nice bouquet of apricot, peach and wildflowers. Beautiful round palate with zippy acidity. The wine is incredibly well balanced with a bright long finish. A must for every Chablis lover. This is a serious Chablis that will pair nicely with grilled lobster, smoked salmon, and brie with truffles. Consider pairing this wine with local culinary specialties from Chablis, like gougère or Le Jambon à la Chablisienne.
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing gives us All Things #PureChablis with an Assortment of Seafood Snacks’ by Chinese Food and Wine Pairings.
- Camilla is Learning About Chablis, A Compelling Label, and Gougères at Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen makes A Poke Quartet Paired with a Duo of Chablis.
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! will be Remembering a Walk-in Chablis over Dinner.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass is Keeping it Simple with #PureChablis.
- Chablis and Grilled Shrimp; Summertime must be near for Wendy at A Day In the Life On the Farm.
- Scallops with Pesto and Chablis are in the kitchen with David at Cooking Chat.
- Jane will be Tasting Chablis: Food and Wine Pairings over at Always Ravenous.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles is Savoring Premier Cru Chablis as We Hope for Good News for the 2021 Chablis Vintage.
- Nicole at the Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Aged Drouhin Vaudon Grand Cru Chablis with Sword Fish Sandwiches,
- Rupal the Syrah Queen explores The Elegance of Chablis – Pure Terroir, Pure Joy, Pure Chablis,
- The Sea in Chablis and the Tragedy of Premox is the topic at Wine Predator with Gwendolyn.
- Payal at Keep the Peas discusses The Singularity of Chablis.
- Host Jill on L’Occasion, gives the scoop on Here’s How I Know It’s Chablis.
Be sure to join us for the live Twitter chat on Saturday, May 15th at 11am EST. Follow the hashtags #Winophiles and #PureChablis.