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What Is Petit Chablis

Simonnet-Febvre Chablis 2014, wine review

Theres one other category in the Chablis hierarchy: Petit Chablis, or little Chablis. An unfortunate name if ever there was one, these Chardonnay vines are planted on a different type of chalk soil that also originates in southern England, called Portlandian. Its less rich in fossils and is found as a more recent layer, by a few hundred million years, on top of Kimmeridgian.

These vines grow on the plateau at the top of slopes. Petit Chablis is an attractive, light and fruity style of wine, crisp and ready to drink within a few months of harvest. The local cooperative, La Chablisienne, produces a wine it calls Pas Si Petit, or not so little, which sums up these inexpensive wines very well.

For Chardonnay lovers, Chablis is pure heaven. For those wine lovers whove tired of Chardonnay, give your taste buds a happy shock. This is Chardonnay as you have never had it before.

What Are The Main Grape Varieties Of Chablis

Chablis is only produced as a white wine and the grape variety used is Chardonnay.

This always comes as a surprise to many people who thought that Chablis was maybe the name of the grape variety, or thought that the wine was made from other grape varieties.

But no.. Chablis is made 100% from Chardonnay.

This is probably because of the style, which is very dry, whereas most people imagine Chardonnay as a rich, creamy grape variety.

Our Favorite Chablis For Every Budget

While not explicitly written on the label, all wines from Chablis in northern France are made exclusively from one grape: Chardonnay. It is here, in the northernmost region of Burgundy, that some believe the grape is expressed in its purest form.

Grand cru and premier cru vineyards are planted on unique Kimmeridgian chalk soils, which date back to the Jurassic period. This helps wines from these vineyards to carry a steely, flinty character alongside the typical taut plum and citrus fruit flavors of the region.

If youre a staunch ABC drinker due to the grapes famous oaky, buttery expressions, give Chablis a chance to change your mind. While some high-end bottlings are fermented or aged in oak, most Chablis sees very little to no time in oak, making it a racy, fresh expression of Chardonnay.

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What Does Chablis Taste Like

The typical style of Chablis wine is dry, crisp, nearly zingy. The wines are light delicate, by which I mean the fruitiness is delicate. The fruitiness of the wine is not super full, not rich and ripe. Traditionally, these wines are not oaked, or only very slightly.

The typical flavours are mineral, iodine, smoky flint, but these are very subtle..

Petit Chablis wine is often juicier and less acidic, can and should be drunk young

Chablis Village, which is going to be very steely dry needs a bit more time to mellow.

Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru wines are more complex and more concentrated. They will nonetheless be very acidic in their youth and have tremendous ageing potential.

It is not uncommon to have Premier Crus and Grand Crus aged in oak barrels to give them more weight and complexity. The oak ageing also helps to make the wines more approachable in their youth.

What Kind Of Food Should I Pair Chablis Wine To

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In their youth, these crisp, steely and delicate wines are superb with seafood, and shellfish.

The perfect match for Chablis in its youth is oysters.

These wines can also be interesting with vegetable terrines, creating a perfect fresh summer pairing.

With a bit of ageing these wines will need more richness and acidity to match the creaminess. Think fish, think creamy dishes..

Zander is a particular classic, but sole, monkfish or scallops can be amazing too.

You could also go for certain white meats such as veal or poultry, especially with mushroom sauces.

For the very old wines food pairing becomes unbelievable

I have had amazing experiences with dishes as varied as pan fried foie gras, Epoisses and other super powerful cheeses. Even red meats in creamy sauces.

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Top Five Chablis Vintages To Drink Now

Chablis continues to offer a great deal to fans of white Burgundy and the Chardonnay grape. Unlike many top Côte dÔr whites, Chablis is widely available.

In terms of value for money, top Premier Cru vineyards sell for less than village wines from appellations such as Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault. Grand Cru Chablis repeats the trick when compared to Premier Cru wines from the leading Côte de Beaune villages. Chablis is a wine with the potential to age for many years and a style where terroir characters are encouraged to shine, with prominent oak and other winemaking influences taking a back seat.

You Talk About Village About Appellation About Premier Crus And Grand Crus What Are They

Appellation in France is the name under which a wine is classified. There are different levels of appellations, but just see it as a guarantee of quality. It also guarantees a place of origin. This can be a region, or a city or smaller even a single vineyard.

In Burgundy, wines are classified into 4 different categories:

Regional appellations such as Bourgogne Blanc and Bourgogne Rouge

Village appellations such as Chablis but also Petit Chablis or Meursault or Beaune.. These are named after the town where they come from

Premier Crus are parcels of vineyards which are recognised for their superior quality

And finally at the very top of the classification pyramid, there are Grand Crus.. These wines come from parcels that are the very best in the region, but only few villages have Grand Crus.

In Chablis, which is the main village appellation there is also the Petit Chablis appellation which is a village appellation. There are also 40 Premier Crus AND 7 Grand Crus.

You can recognise them on the label where the mention is stated.

Normally the name of the climat is cited:

For example Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu of Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons.

And for Grand Crus, its the same.. Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos or Chablis Grand Cru Grenouilles.

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Top 5 Best Wines Of Chablis:

There are lots of amazing wines in Chablis, so the job for me to narrow down to just 5 wines has been extremely tough

I have taken my favourite wines, but pretty much any wine from the below producers rocks.

First I will name my top 3, but note that these dont come cheap!

However, they are absolutely mindblowing and should be on your to drink list:

But I definitely want to also add the following Domaines and houses as they are also fantastic:

Domaine Laroche, Domaine Droin, Domaine Gérard Tremblay, Domaine Billaud Simon, Domaine Bernard Defaix and Domaine William Fevre all deserve to be noted.

Négociant or Domaine?

When youre looking for Chablis wine there are 2 directions you can go. You can buy a wine from a Domaine, basically a single estate, a grower, or you can buy a wine from a négociant.

A négociant buys in either grapes, juice or actual finished wine from several growers and blends it together into a wine. The wines from négociants will NOT have the mention of Domaine. Theyre marketed under the name of the négociant which in Burgundy is a maison or a Négociant house.

Negociants can also have Domaines which can make things a bit complex, but just think Domaine = grower and no mention of Domaine = negociant.

When To Drinkpremier Cru: 23 Years From Releasegrand Cru: 5 Years From Release

#PureChablis | An Introduction To Chablis: Wine Region Appellations | The Wine Show @ HOME

The three most lauded appellations are Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru, which are vineyards planted on Kimmeridgian chalk, named after the English village of Kimmeridge, where it was discovered. This chalk soil dates to the Jurassic, and it stretches to Chablis, and Champagne, from the south of England. Made up of a slew of fossilized sea creatures, it gives Chablis its backbone and steely or flint character.

With 8,880 acres of vineyards, the classification most widely available is called simply Chablis on the label. The wines should be fruity yet balanced by a steely, mineral character thats the epitome of Chardonnay this far north. The vineyards tend to be higher up the slopes or further away from the main valley of the Serein. These wines are not well-equipped for aging and can be enjoyed young.

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A Little Chablis History: The Rollercoaster Ride Of Prosperity

Winemaking goes back to the ancient Roman times in Chablis just like many other regions in France, but it wasnt until the Cistercian monks of the Abbey of Pontigny came along in 1114 and founded their abbey, which soon became well-known and got donated vines to meet its needs. From then, the vineyards and region started to flourish and become commercially viable. The region further developed in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries with the construction of the Saint Martin and Saint Pierre churches, as well as the Hotel Dieu, the Saint Cosme priory and the Petit Pontigny cellar. For building the walls around the town of Bourg in 1405, vintners had to turn over 10 percent of their harvest for 8 years to help pay for the construction. The Yonne River also helped support this economic boom since Chablis wines could easily be transported to Paris, and thus establishing a lucrative trade with the capital for some time. However, Chablis prosperity took a downward turn when the Huguenots attacked in 1568. They completely burnt down the Faubourg and then ransacked the Bourg.

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The Chablis Wine Festival

Organized by the Chablis Tourist Office in partnership with the Bourgogne Wine Board , La Fête des Vins wine festival is a key event in the year.

The first Fête des Vins was organized in 1949, when it served to mark a renaissance for Chablis. Each year, it is held on the fourth weekend of October, and brings together several thousands of visitors including wine lovers, professionals, connoisseurs and newcomers to the world of wine. A wide range of events are on offer, including the baptism of the new vintage, tastings of all the different levels of appellation through different vintages offered by some 40 producers from Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois region, and the induction of new members of the local brotherhood, along with stands run by local food producers, walks in the vines, and plenty of activities for children.

Chablis: Vines In A Sedimentary Basin

William Fevre Chablis

The vines of Chablis are located in a sedimentary basin. This low-lying zone, once under the ocean, was gradually covered by the material that today make up the soil and subsoil of the Chablis wine region.

The subsoil in Chablis is known as Kimmeridgean. “The vineyards of Chablis have one sole religion: the Kimmeridgean,” writes Jacques Fanet in his book “Les Terroirs du Vin” published by Hachette.

The Kimmeridgean is a geological age in the Upper Jurassic epoch, around 150 million years ago. In Chablis, one finds subsoils of gray marl which alternate with bands of limestone, sometimes very rich in fossils of Exogyra virgula, a small, comma-shaped oyster that is characteristic of the marl from the Middle and Upper Kimmeridgean.

It is in this very particular subsoil, which in places breaks the surface, that the wines of Chablis draw their unique character, their purity, their sophistication and minerality.

Chablis takes pride in its subsoil :

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The Difference Between Premier Cru And Grand Cru

Higher in quality, but still in wide availability is Chablis Premier Cru. Almost 2,000 acres of Premier Cru vineyards are spread on the slopes above both banks of the Serein, as well as in some side valleys, but all face either southeast or southwest.

There are 40 vineyards designated as Premier Cru, based on their exposition, the slope and the density of the Kimmeridgian chalk. However, many of their names rarely appear on wine labels.

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Some of the smaller Premier Crus banded together with neighboring plots and are produced under brands with greater recognition. In effect, those 40 vineyards have been reduced to 17, and its those names youll see on the labels. Producers have the choice of using the name of the smaller Premier Cru or the larger, depending on their commercial preferences.

The Premier Cru vineyards on the right bank produce wines that are warm, rich and powerful. Some of the most well-known vineyards on this bank are Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume and Vaucoupin. On the left bank of the Serein, Premier Crus tend to produce more austere wines that bring out a flinty character. Vineyards to look for are Côté de Léchet, Vaillons, Montmains, Vosgros and Vau de Vey. Enjoy most Premier Cru wines after two to three years from release.

Why Chablis Is The Purest Chardonnay

Driving into Chablis, the town at the center of Burgundys northernmost region, the road descends into what feels like another world. It may be just 10 miles off the A6 highway that runs from Paris to the South of France, but quiet, wine-dominated Chablis is a step back in time.

Gabled houses with slate roofs surround a massive church. Narrow streets are full of the essentials of French country life. Bakers, butchers and cafés flourish despite modern supermarkets. And then there are the wineries. You find them down every street, where they sit behind discreet doors that lead to interior courtyards and underground cellars.

You cant escape vines. They are what Chablis lives and breathes. The vineyards dominate the surrounding area, rising up on both sides of the Serein River. The river is the reason for Chablis namesake wine. Without its steep-sided valley and temperature moderation, the vines would not be able to flourish.

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Chablis This Wonderful White Wine From Burgundy

Chablis is a Village appellation of the Chablis vineyard, the AOC dates from 1938. The Chablis appellation covers 3150 hectares exclusively in the Yonne department, it is the northernmost part of the Burgundy vineyard. The Chablis grape variety is Chardonnay. This dry white wine from Burgundy has …

To Oak Or Not To Oak In Chablis Winemaking

Review of Domain Fournillon Chablis 2017 white wine

The use of oak in winemaking is a contested issue in Chablis. In the past, old wooden feuillette barrels were used to age Chablis. These barrels were neutral, so they didnt impart the typical oak flavors like vanilla, cinnamon, and toast into the wines. It was difficult to keep these older barrels clean, so the wines could sometimes develop faults, including discoloration. As a result, winemakers eventually turned toward temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentation tanks since the tanks were much easier to keep clean. The controversy over oak arose when some winemakers decided to return to using wooden barrels in winemaking in the late twentieth century. The traditionalists reject the use of oak believing that it doesnt represent the Chablis style while the modernists embrace its use as a way to add deeper texture to the wines. Nonetheless, compared to the white wines from the rest of Burgundy, the use of oak is minimal, especially since the amount of char in the oak barrels is quite low, so this limits the level of toast in the wine. Most of the basic AOC Chablis and Petit Chablis are unoaked and vinified in stainless steel tanks. The Grand Cru and Premier Cru wines do get some oak maturation in barrels, but theres much less time spent in barrel and the use of new oak is smaller when compared to the white wines from Cote de Beaune.

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Exceptional White Bourgogne Wines

Bourgogne white wines of outstanding quality, the wines of Chablis are made from one single varietal: Chardonnay. They are sub-divided into four appellations:

These are identified by precisely delimited production zones, and are subject to strict production regulations. Logically, the higher up the hierarchy, the tighter these regulations.

Chablis wines are dry white wines which are characterized by their purity, crispness, sophistication and minerality. The Chardonnay varietal gives results in Chablis unlike anywhere else. It draws its personality and character from a subsoil that is 150 million years old, and ripens in ideal conditions, in a semi-continental climate, which allow it to attain a good balance between sugar levels and acidity.

Today, the area planted in Chablis is about 5,800ha. In 1955, after the phylloxera crisis in the 19th century which ravaged France’s vineyards, then two world wars, Chablis covered no more than 550ha of vine. Nonetheless, not all the appellation’s territory is planted as yet: the delimited zone comprises 6,800ha spreading along the valley of the Serein, the river which runs through the wine region from south to north before flowing into the Yonne.

The volumes produced have changed in accordance with the increase in area cultivated, with minor variations due to climatic vagaries. Between 2016 and 2020, the harvest amounted to slightly over 280 366hl, the equivalent of 37,3 million bottles .

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