Many American wine drinkers are shocked to learn Chablis is made in France!
It is a pity that American vintners pirated the name of the area after
Prohibition and the word "Chablis" became synonymous with "white
Chablis vintners, though, have worked to restore the good name of the area and
to distance their wines with the anonymous wines coming from California's
Central Valley which also bear the name Chablis.
The wines used to routinely be described as displaying notes of
"gunflint" and minerally, smoky tones.
The soils consist of Jurassic marl or Kimmeridge clay or Portland stone (also
known as limestone). The Kimmeridge terroir gets its name from a site in
Great Britain near Dorset. Chablis has been devastated by frosts from time
to time. Vineyards were severely impacted some 50 years ago by major late
frosts and vineyard owners have worked to implement frost protection
As the region is generally rather cool, especially at night, the acidity of the
Chardonnay grown in Chablis tends to be rather crisp and pronounced. Most
consumers of California Chardonnays are often surprised, sometimes unpleasantly
so, by the fact that most are not only tangy, but bone dry, too.
You'll find "Petit Chablis" from time to time...this comes from
vineyards on the plateaus of the region. We've periodically found some of
these to be quite good. The law allows a higher yield in these vineyards.
"Simple" Chablis covers something close to 4400 hectares of land, with
about two-thirds being carpeted with vines. This means more vineyards
might be planted in the future. Yields are also high, producers being able
to have 60 hectoliters per hectare.
The top wines come from Premier Cru and Grand Cru sites.
There are about 79 climats producing Premier Cru Chablis. This
proved too confusing for consumers, so they've consolidated the number of cru
sites to a more reasonable number. The best known are Monte de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaillons, Cte de Lchet,
Mont de Milieu, Fort and Butteaux. When young these display quiet notes
of acacia, hints of iodine and green apple. If you can wait for these to
blossom, good ones develop more toasty, almost hazelnut-like notes. Most
producers will tell you to give their premier cru wines about 5 years in the
bottle for the wines to blossom.
Grand Cru wines from Chablis will set you back a more serious number of
dollars. Plan to spend $50-$100 for a grand cru wine.
Here the yields are significantly lower and these wines can age for a longer
Les Blanchots : 13 hectares
Les Clos : 26 hectares
Bougros : 13 hectares
Vaudsir : 15 hectares
Valmur : 13 hectares
Les Grenouilles : 9 hectares
Les Preuses : 11 hectares
The Grand Cru sites are located on a hill just outside of the town of
If you drive out to see the hill with the grand cru sites, you can drive up
the road adjacent to Les Clos. At the top of the hill there is a parking
area and numerous picnic tables in the woods.
There's a great vista of the vineyards of Chablis overlooking the grand cru of
A stone "map" of Chablis...from the top of the hill you can see all
the great vineyards!
We visited this site on a winter road trip in early 2006...looks like a great
place for a picnic!
We enjoyed a nice lunch at a bistro in Chablis...the photos below will give you
an idea of the local cuisine.
I'm not sure what Grandma was drinking, but I know it was not "Pink
House cured salmon.
Croustillants of pied de cochon (pig's feet).
The server must have been having a tough day as she was more tart than the
This situation might have been aggravated all the more when the bottle of wine
we ordered was rejected for being corked.
The local vintner we were dining with had also sniffed the first pour and agreed
it was "bouchonn" or smelling of a wet, damp cellar.
The server immediately grabbed the glass and took a sniff for herself, slamming
the bottle down onto the table.
She informed her co-worker that we'd just rejected the wine...we wondered if the
restaurant has had numerous bottles of this producer's wines sent back, or what.
Anyway, the fellow who ordered the salad depicted above enjoyed this plate
immensely, as it was festooned with lots of local cheese.
A couple of us ordered the guinea hen, a sort of fricassee with cabbage,
potatoes, carrots and a few bits of pork.
Pochouse a la Chablisienne, a seafood "stew," poached in Chablis.
The diner who'd opted for the pig's feet appetizer did not finish all the plate
and he was certain this was pointed out to the chef.
Having ordered the rabbit, he was dismayed at finding the chunk of meat to be
mostly bone as it was the front part of the animal and not the more meaty
We simply ordered a coffee and departed.
Back to the main White
We stock some lovely Chablis wines, by the way.