Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thinking about Chablis

The advent of Fall has sent me back into my wine studies and what better place to begin than Burgundy, or more specifically, Chablis, Burgundy's most northerly region. The name Chablis has been widely abused and many do not seem to know that it is a quality Chardonnay wine from a premier French wine region. I recently sat down at the bar of a high-end seafood restaurant in town and when the bartender asked for my order, I asked him if he had any Chablis. His response was to lean in and whisper to me that I must mean Chardonnay as Chablis was cheap California white wine that they did not serve. I could tell that he was actually embarrassed for me and my faux pas. (Deep sigh.)
Chablis has a cool continental climate with Atlantic maritime influences which bring a cloud cover that lowers temperatures and slows the ripening process. This is one of the factors that leads to the high acidity for which the wines of Chablis are known. Another important factor is the soil.
The Chablis AOC vineyards are located on Portlandian chalk, a sedimentary soil that formed approximately 150 million years ago. This is considered the lesser soil in Chablis. It creates more austere, high acid white wines with a green fruit flavor profile and maybe a hint of minerality. The Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards are planted on the sunnier slopes on Kimmeridgian marl over limestone which also imparts high acidity but with ripe citrus fruit flavors and a stony or flinty minerality. The wines of Chablis are typically fermented in stainless steel with some oak used at the Premier and Grand Cru levels but not to the point that the oak becomes a major aroma/flavor influence.

Tasting Notes:

2009 Chablis Millesime Simonnet-Febvre $20
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon with a watery rim
Nose: Clean, medium intense youthful aromas of fresh lemon
Palate: Dry, Light body, medium- alcohol, medium+ acidity with flavors of lemon and green apple
Length: medium
Quality: Good; Drink now, meant to be enjoyed young (2-3 years old).
Serve with oysters on the half shell or with tart dishes prepared with mustard or white wine.


2010 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains  $16                
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon with a watery rim
Nose: Medium-intense youthful aromas of lemon, saline and noticeable sulfur
Palate: Dry, medium- body, acidity and alcohol with a light lemon flavor.
Length: short
Quality: Poor (Bargain price=Bargain flavor in this particular instance.)







2009 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains- Domaine Vocoret & Fils $35
Appearance: Clear, pale lemon with a watery rim
Nose: Clean, medium intense youthful aromas of citrus fruit, green apple and a stony minerality.
Palate: Dry, high acid, medium body and alcohol with flavors of fresh lemon, lemon pith, green apple and a chalky minerality.
Length: Medium+
Quality: Very good; Drink now but has some aging potential.
Serve with oysters on the half shell, escargots or cooked oysters or fish with a white cream sauce.


Related prior posts:
Tasting Chablis
Notes from a Burgundy Wine Tasting