Chablis is the northernmost region in Burgundy. It lies approximately 20 miles southeast of Champagne’s southernmost point and has been nicknamed The Golden Gate. That’s because anyone visiting Burgundy from Paris or Champagne must travel through Chablis first.
Physically separated from the rest of Burgundy, Chablis sits almost by itself and has remained pretty independent from the rest of Burgundy.
Chablis is the coolest wine-growing region in Burgundy. Due to Burgundy’s location in the relative center of France, its climate is not influenced much by the Atlantic or the Mediterranean.
The biggest hazard to each vintage is the looming possibility of sudden temperature drops in the spring that create late frost. That is detrimental to vine maturation. Frost can kill a vintage before it has even begun.
Even though, as a whole, Chablis is mostly made up of calcareous chalky clay, the most important soil type for classic Chablis is Kimmeridgian. Kimmeridgian is a soil that consists of decomposed fossilized sea shells, which help the wines attain the beautiful delicate minerality that they are most well known for.
Chablis is best known for its austere, bone-dry Chardonnays. However, there are differences in the wines made here, which vary from producer to producer.
Classic Chablis has always been a wine of almost pale straw color with greenish-silver hues, delicate pear and green apple aromas, high minerality and razor-sharp malic acidity (although Chablis is not put through malolacticfermentation). It typically needs a few years in the bottle to mellow out. The wine is traditionally fermented in large neutral oak casks (known here asfeuillettes) and bottled early to maintain its minerality and freshness. But nowadays, even producers of the classic style use stainless steel to ferment their wines instead of the traditional oak. Some people say that these wines are true classic Chablis, although that is not necessarily true. The region has been producing wine for much longer than steel has been used in wine production. However, if style describes the flavor profile, then Chablis made in stainless steel are typical examples of the classic style: bone-dry, high acid, tons of minerality – an all-out assault on the palate…
However, there are producers who are opting for a more modern, international style of Chablis with higher levels of oak. These producers inducemalolactic fermentation, a process that converts malic acid to lactic acid and creates a more buttery acidity instead of the green apple acidity associated with malic acid.
From the bed and breakfast it’s about an hour’s drive and if you don’t want to drive yourself we could take you there. It’s close to Auxerre which is also worthwhile a visit.
Read about the Sancerre, an onther great wine of the Loire.