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Ep 392: The Greats -- Chablis

Wine for Normal People

Release Date: 09/21/2021

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One of the greatest Chardonnays (and actually white wines) in the world comes from Chablis in the northern part of Burgundy. In this show we discuss this historic region and why it is capable of making the most distinctive, minerally, terroir-driven white wines made. 

 

Here are the show notes: 

Map: https://www.chablis-wines.com

  • Location: At nearly 48˚N latitude in the northern part of the Bourgogne region in the Yonne department between Paris and Beaune, around the village of Chablis, Serein River runs through it, with vineyards on either bank
  • Area under vine in 2020: 5,771 hectares/14,260 acres
  • 18% of the total volume of wine produced in the Bourgogne region
  • Also contains: St-Bris, which makes mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc

 

Terroir:

  • Terroir expressed more clearly in Chablis than almost anywhere else
  • Valleys branch from the Serein river – left and right, hills are basis of the vineyards
    • Right-bank: softer, bigger wines
    • Left-bank: more acidic, less ripe, more like citrus, green apple
  • Soils: Subsoil is Kimmeridgean limestone with layers of Marl –limestone and clay turned into rock sometimes with fossils of Exogyra virgula, a small, comma-shaped oyster. Different vineyards have different proportions of limestone, marl, clay, loam,
  • Portlandian limestone – younger, harder, no fossils. Sites with this used only forvPetit Chablis
  • 47 Defined Climats (can be mentioned on the label) 40 are Premier Cru, 7 are Grand Cru

Photo: Chablis wines

Climate: Maritime and continental

  • Maritime influence but kind of a modified oceanic climate with continental influences from Eastern Europe
  • Less rainfall and the winters are harsher and summer hotter than maritime

 

Winemaking

  • Fermented in stainless or oak, low temperature, slow fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation
  • Neutral oak (already been used) is used in Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. Very few producers use new oak barrels since the goal is to preserve terroir

 

 

Classification:

Petit Chablis (19%): 729 hectares (1750 acres)

  • ALL of Chablis wine-growing district (catchall) – AOC 1944, least prestigious – lesser rated vineyards
  • Soil is Portlandian limestone – harder, younger soil on a plateau at the top of slopes, above premier and grand crus
  • Flavors: citrus, flowers, less minerally, light, acidic, saline, to be consumed within 2 years
  • Pairings (goes for Chablis and many Premier Cru too): Oysters, seafood in citrus, salads and acidic vegetables, spicy food, vegetarian pasta

 

Chablis (66%): 3656 hectares (9,034 acres) of vines

  • In the department of Yonne, on the Serein River
  • On Kimmeridgean limestone and marl, very large - quality varies
  • Flavors: Mineral with flint, green apple, lemon, underbrush, citrus, mint, fresh-cut hay
  • Best within 2-3 years

Photo: Chablis wines

Chablis Premier Cru: (14%) - Almost 809 ha/2,000 acres over 40 sites (climat)

  • Both sides of the river Serein, with 24 on the left bank and 16 on the right bank
  • Mostly on slopes of the Serein, southeast or southwest facing, on Kimmeridgian chalk
  • Can just use the phrase "Chablis Premier Cru" if blended across Premier Cru sites
  • Right bank: Softer, fuller wines--Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaucoupin
  • Left bank: Flinty, acidic. Côté de Léchet, Vaillons, Montmains, Vosgros, Vau de Vey
  • Can age 5-10 years

 

Grand Cru Chablis (1%) - 101 hectares/250 acres

  • Contiguous site on the right bank of the Serein, south facing on Kimmeridgian limestone, with fossilized oysters, marl
  • Seven vineyards are Grand Cru, which are each part of just one appellation, Grand Cru Chablis.
  • The difference in these wines: Better sites, lower yields, higher alcohol, higher planting density, matured until at least March 15 of the year following harvest
  • Grand Crus: north to south
    • Bougros: Fresh and mineral
    • Les Preuses:: elegant, minerally with a long finish
    • Vaudésir: Stronger, richer wine – more body
    • Grenouilles: Fruity with strong acidity, a fuller body
    • Valmur: VERY fruity, balanced with strong minerality
    • Les Clos: The most famous site: elegance, minerality, fruit, acidity
    • Blanchot: Soft and more like white flowers
  • La Moutonne is an unofficial 8th Grand Cru
  • Best with 10-15 years of age
  • Pairings: Lobster, mushrooms, shrimp, cream sauces

We love this wine. If you haven't had it, definitely get one and discover what makes it a "great!" 

Photo: Chablis wines

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