From the days of Tiparello Sweet Tip Cigars, Station Wagons with side wood paneling, Love’s Baby Soft, All in the Family, and Burger King’s slogan “have it your way”, comes the Americanized version of “Chablis” the token white wine everyone loved to drink and say. If you asked anyone from that era to define Chablis, they would pretty much tell you, that it’s “white wine”. The wine industry in California in the ’60s and ’70s blemished the reputation of [Pure] Chablis in America. Forty plus years ago, California marketed white wines as Chablis and red wines as Burgundy; despite the fact that Chablis and Burgundy are places, and not grapes.
Perhaps it was simply the French name Chablis that people loved saying, that made it so popular, it was very sophisticated and sexy sounding; so je ne sais quoi that it rolled ever-so eloquently off any American’s tongue, Northeasterners and Southerners alike. American Chablis was back in the day, cheap white jug wine produced for the masses. But, Chablis is, and has always been so much more than the misappropriated-name, ’70′s mass-appeal cheap jug wine. Chablis is a wine region in France that produces its namesake white wine from the Chardonnay grape.
Pure Chablis is the marketing board of Chablis; its purpose is to strengthen the image of Chablis wines in the United States by showcasing the elegance and purity of these wines. Chablis Ambassador, Jean-François Bordet, the Vice-President of the Chablis Wine Board and owner/winemaker of Domaine took us on a tour of Chablis via Miami.
Chablis is located in the northern part of Burgundy in France. The only grape variety permitted in the entire Chablis vineyard is Chardonnay. Even though this grape is known and revered throughout the world, its expression through the soil, the climate and the expertise of the Chablis winegrowers is very unique. The cool Burgundian climate produces wines higher in acidity and less fruity than Chardonnay wines grown in warmer climates, such as California. The wines often have a “flinty” note, described as “gunflint”, and “steely”. Chablis has much less influence of oak compared to other wines from the region. Most Chablis is unoaked, and vinified in stainless steel tanks.
Terroir is the combination of grape, soil, climate, vineyard location and the human touch, all rolled into one. Climats are plots of land with precisely defined limits, benefiting from specific geological and climatic conditions. Bourgogne is the only wine-growing region in the world that can legitimately claim the notions of Climats which are inseparable from its terroir, a founding element of the reputation of its wines.
With the climats, the Bourgogne region goes a step further in defining how much the “place” where wine is produced is important. Climats is unique to Bourgogne and refers to delimited plots. Throughout the years, Bourgogne wine producers have been committed to the education, and the sharing of information on how terroir and climats make the region’s wines inimitable.
Four appellations can be found in the Chablis vineyard: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. Each are defined by precise production areas and specific production conditions. The authorized yield varies by appellation, as do the minimum sugar required to be able to harvest the grapes. Logically, the higher up you go in the hierarchy, the greater the requirements. 35 to 40 million bottles of Chablis are produced annually.
Petit Chablis, is a fresh, and generally light wine. Chablis, the largest appellation, offering different profiles, of which both winemaking, and the specifics of the vintage play a decisive part. Chablis Premier Cru is the very essence of Chardonnay. Chablis Grand Cru is inimitable and one of Chablis’ highly regarded treasures.
Chablis, food pairing
Petit Chablis – Best served chilled, Petit Chablis is particularly suitable as an aperitif, or simply on its own.
Chablis – Chablis is a perfect accompaniment to seafood or grilled fish, and ideal with oysters. It can also accompany goat cheese as well as white meats and roast poultry.
Chablis Premier Cru – Its purity, sophistication, and nobility are a perfect match for a wide range of flavors. Chablis Premier Cru can accompany poultry or veal with white sauce, snails, and oysters. Chablis is ideal with Bourgogne cheeses like Epoisses, and is also wonderful with warm asparagus, rabbit, crab, scallops, and poached fish.
Chablis Grand Cru – Chablis Grand Cru is a perfect match for all types of lobster dishes, foie gras, poultry, and white meat with cream and mushrooms, raw fish or fish cooked with cream or butter.
And when it was all said and done, the marketing and PR companies of yesteryear interchangeably defined Chablis and white wine, without true meaning; and now with cause, and reason, Chablis is coming into the main-stream light as it should, proud with pedigree.
The wines tasted at the Pure-Chablis tasting were,
- Chablis Vielles Vignes 2013 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet
- Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre 2011 Domaine Billaud-Simon
- Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2011 Maison Simonnet-Fèbvre
- Chablis 1er Cru Vaugiraut 2009 Domaine Oudin
- Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2010 Drouhin Vaudon
- Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot 2009 Domaine Laroche
Chablis wines can be purchased at wineatelier.com
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