An introductory course to Chablis Wine
Chablis is not just a wine, but an entire region located just northwest of the French region of Burgundy. What’s bit odd is that the wine is named by the region, not the variety as it is usually done. However, the locals say it is so because the wine is a direct reflection of the spirit of the region – hence, Chablis wine.
Chablis wines are often compared to having citrus accompanied with white flower aromas. The flint-like minerality and high acidity are a trait of the best Chablis wines. For the most part that is owed to the local climate, the specific structure of the soil as well as the long-lasting wine tradition of the region. As they say over there, only through the peculiarities of the area, one can truly comprehend the essence of the Chablis wine.
Here are the most notable peculiarities that make the Chablis wine what it is.
The best way to explain the concept of “terroir” is through the Chablis wine as it is the most determining factor. Terroir is a French term that describes a set of environmental factors that have a profound impact on the crop’s phenotype. For example, you account the soil, the position of the growing fields, the farming practices, and everything else that contributes to the final product. In this particular situation, it is the terroir which gives a significant amount of the quality to Chablis wine.
The Chablis wine is made entirely of Chardonnay. It is the perfect grape to absorb the local terroir and winemaking. As a result, we get to have the wine that is a perfect reflection of all that. A reflection with a taste and unique aroma recognized by wine lovers worldwide.
Because the region is in the far north, the climate has a significant impact on the grape. The result is that it ripens moderately. The typical lack of sunshine means Chablis wine will usually have lighter body, higher acidity, and less sugar.
Then there is the danger of spring frosts that can decimate much of the harvest. Often winemakers place small stoves into the vineyards to save it from that. Sometimes that works, and on some occasions that is fruitless. Again, all that depends on the severity of the climate that is largely unpredictable, but winemakers will do what they can to save their precious chardonnay harvest.
The Burgundy areas have very distinctive soil. To be more precise there are two types of soil in the Chablis region: Portlandien and Kimmeridgian. Some 150 million years ago that entire area was covered by a sea. Therefore, the vineyards pretty much lay on a seafloor or a former one. As a result, the soil is rich in minerals and is very chalky. Also, there are plenty of fossilized marine skeletons and seashells which contribute to the mineral content.
Unlike in most parts of the world where chardonnay is aged in oak, winemakers prefer to use steel tanks in Chablis. That way they manage to preserve part of the minerality found with the chardonnay and let its fruity flavor flourish. By any means, that’s how winemakers make the wine be an accurate reflection of the area and the climate.
Thanks to its salinity and high acidity the Chablis wine goes perfectly with fish and light meats. According to many experts, the Chablis wine is unmatched when it comes to pairing with raw fish and creamy sauces. Also due to its acidity, it acts as a palate cleanser.
Chablis wine – a conclusion
Just because it is made from Chardonnay doesn’t mean that you know it. Chablis is wine with its distinct personality inherited from the Burgundy terroir. It’s easy to drink, goes well with some foods and is reasonably priced – so grab yourself a bottle and let us know what you think!