Surrounded by quiet vineyards, sparse forests and vast wheat fields, the area around the village of the same name perfectly embodies "la France profonde", provincial France.
Chablis is the most north-eastern winegrowing area in Burgundy, located on the route between Lyon and Paris. The area extends over 20 villages located in the Serein river valley. The 4,500 or so hectares of vineyards are divided into four appellations: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. The latter two are divided into single vineyards, which are always named on the label. The seven Grand Cru sites are called Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir.
The vines grow on calcareous, permeable marl soils. The gentle hilly landscape was largely moulded by the last ice age, as well as the small river Serein and its tributaries. Faulting and erosion have uncovered the soil formations of various geological eras, which characterize the area's individual sites. The dominant soil is calcareous Kimmeridgian, interspersed with seashells. Chablis is one of the most northerly wine areas in France. Solar radiation and precipitation vary from year to year, shaping the different vintages.
Chablis is made from Chardonnay grapes, which thrive on the calcareous, permeable soils.
Unlike the white Burgundies of the Côte d'Or further south, Chablis is mostly vinified in steel tanks or large barrels. Young Chablis has a fresh, almost steely acidity and shows a discreet citrus bouquet, sometimes complemented by floral aromas and notes of flint. Chablis from the Premier and Grand Cru sites matures very well for five to ten years in the bottle, when the colour is an iridescent greenish yellow, the wine smells of lime blossom and toasted hazelnuts, and the acidity on the palate is gentler. Some winemakers mature their wines in used barriques to give them more complexity and smoothness.
Best age for drinking
2-5 years for basic wines and vintages5-15 years for wines from top vintages as well as Premier and Grand Cru sites.