The following is a thorough overview of the Chablis wine region in France, a subset of the Bourgogne/Burgundy wine region. We carry four Chablis wines in our store from the family-owned/operated Domaine Ellevin: an entry-level Chablis AOP, two 1er Cru Chablis from named vineyards, and a 2012 Premier Cru Chablis – Vielles Vignes from one of the oldest vineyards of Chablis.
Chablis Wine Guide
Chablis (“Shah-blee”) is a Chardonnay making wine region in the northwest corner of Burgundy, France. Unlike other Chardonnay wines, Chablis rarely uses oak-aging, resulting in a very different style and taste profile. It’s because of Chablis’ renown, that the unoaked Chardonnay style is popular worldwide.
What Does Chablis Taste Like?
Chablis is 100% Chardonnay made in a lean style with minerality unlike any other. by Dominic Lockyer
Wines from Chablis are frequently described as having citrus and white flower aromas with dry, lean, light-bodied flavors of citrus, pear, minerality and salinity. Chablis rarely displays flavors of butter – an indication of oak-aging. In fact, one of the most desirable traits in quality Chablis is a long, tingly finish of high acidity and flint-like minerality. Much of the lean and elegant taste of Chardonnay from Chablis is attributed to the qualities of the soil, climate, and traditions of the region. Knowing the peculiarities of this area (and there are a few) will help you find better Chablis wine.
The regional characteristics of Chablis are definitely represented in the wines. It’s a great wine to try to understand minerality in French wines.
Chablis Food Pairing
Poulet à l’ Estragon is French for Chicken Tarragon. This recipe from Food52 by Tom Hirschfeld calls for 1/2 cup dry white wine–Chablis will work perfectly.
Chablis was once the go-to choice for a dry white wine for cooking and can still serve this purpose well.
The best food pairings take advantage of the wine’s natural high acidity to act as a palate cleanser and works well with delicately creamy sauces. Due to the lighter, more delicate taste profile of Chardonnay you’ll want to stick to lighter meats and fishes as your base ingredient including chicken, quail, trout, bass, halibut, cod, clams or scallops. The high acidity and salinity in Chablis also means it will do well alongside raw fish and sushi. In terms of spice profiles, lean towards fresh herbs, white pepper, and low overall spiciness.
A few great pairings for inspiration:
- chicken tarragon (see the recipe for dish above)
- clam chowder
- black truffle fricassee over creamy polenta
The Chablis Climate
The best Chablis vineyards have chalky light-colored clay marl soils from the Kimmeridgian age in the late Jurassic period. The soils were once an ancient sea bed covered in shells. by Adnan Yahya
The region of Chablis is what they call semi-continental which means growing high quality grapes is very challenging. Chablis does have idyllic hot summers, but poor weather in the spring or fall is what wreaks havoc on a vintage. This is very common in Chablis. For example, spring frosts may kill the vines, and rain in the fall will stop grapes from fully ripening. Fortunately, (and oddly enough) we can thank climate change for giving Chablis a running streak of highly delicious vintages. So, if you’re on the lookout for your next bottle, now is the time.
- Wine: 100% Chardonnay
- Size in Acres/Hectares: 100% Chardonnay
- Size: 13,497 acres / 5462 hectares (2012)
- Petit Chablis AOP
- Chablis AOP
- Premier Cru Chablis AOP (40 climats or “named plots”)
- Grand Crus Chablis AOP (7 climats)
- Serving Temperature: 42–50 °F (5–10 °C)
- Aging: 2–6 years (top tier wines will age 10+ years)
- Expect to Spend: $20+ will get you great quality Chablis