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Think you’re not a fan of chardonnay? Think again. If you love crisp, refreshing white wines with ample amounts of lip-puckering acidity, then chardonnay from Chablis is just the wine for you. The area produces some of the most complex, site-specific, and undeniably thirst-quenching bottles of white wine on the planet. And if seafood, oysters, or other raw bar favorites are on the menu, these are definitely the wines you want in your glass.
Depending on where the fruit is grown, as well as how it's vinified, Chablis can take on myriad tasting notes and subtle nuances, but the overall effect is bright, zesty, and acid-driven.
What Is Chablis?
Chablis is a crisp white wine made from chardonnay grapes in the Chablis region of France.
Where Does Chablis Come From?
Chablis is the most northerly wine-producing district in France’s easterly Burgundy region. The area is known for its cool climates and signature chalky (Kimmeridgian) soils, which generally produce wines with high levels of acidity and prominent “flinty” characteristics.
How Is Chablis Made?
The final flavor profile of a wine from Chablis is greatly dependent on the site from which it comes, the producer who makes it, and how it’s vinified or aged. Many winemakers in Chablis choose to vinify their wines exclusively in stainless steel for the sake of preserving its natural acidity and freshness, though neutral oak is often used on Premier Cru and Grand Cru bottlings.
What Does Chablis Taste Like?
Generally speaking, wines from Chablis tend to be crisp, acid-driven, and very refreshing. Due to the cool climate of the region, as well as its signature chalky soils, wines from the area often show notes of gunflint, chalk, oyster shells, and crushed or wet stones. In terms of fruit characteristics, wines from Chablis are often dominated by notes of green apple, pear, lemon, and other citrus fruits.
Are Chardonnay and Chablis the Same Thing?
Kind of. All white wines from Chablis are produced from 100% chardonnay grapes. However, not all chardonnay comes from Chablis.
What Are Good Food Pairings with Chablis?
Chablis’ naturally high acidity and briny saline-driven flavors make it perfect for sipping with fresh seafood, oysters, and other raw-bar favorites. The wines are equally delicious with crisp salads, foie gras, and a variety of soft cheeses. For a classic Burgundy-inspired pairing, whip up some homemade gougères and pop a bottle from the list below.
These are seven bottles to try.
Château de Béru “Terroirs de Béru”
Looking for a low-intervention, low-sulfur Chablis produced from organic and biodynamicall -farmed fruit? This bottle is for you. Spearheaded by Athénais Béru, this zesty Chablis comes from 30-year-old vines rooted into stony hillside terroirs. After aging in steel for 14 to 16 months, the wines are bottled without any fining or filtration. Lively flavors of Asian pear, lemon oil, quince, and sea spray dominate the wine’s energetic palate.
Domaine Eleni et Edouard Vocoret Le Bas de Chapelot
Edouard and Eleni Vocoret first met while working harvest abroad in New Zealand. Shortly after, the pair married and returned to Edouard’s native Chablis, where they took over a portion of his family’s vineyards. Today, the couple sustainably farms five hectares of vines, from which they produce four cuvées. Le Bas de Chapelot comes from a 3.2-hectare parcel of 40-year-old vines rooted in deep clay and limestone soils. Flavors of juicy citrus, lemon cream, crushed rocks, and a hint of brioche lead to a satisfying finish.
Domaine Pattes Loup “Vent d’Ange”
This tasty and well-balanced bottle of Chablis is crafted by Thomas Pico, a passionate organic farmer based in the village of Courgis. Pico founded his estate in 2005 after inheriting 2.4 hectares of vines from his family. Today, the estate encompasses 15 hectares of vineyards, all of which are hand-harvested. Like all of his wines, Pico’s “Vent d’Ange” ferments with native yeasts and ages for 14 to 16 months in a combination of concrete eggs and steel. Expect briny flavors of yellow apple, pear skin, straw, and a hint of grilled nuts, leading to a harmonious saline-tinged finish.
Moreau-Naudet Petit Chablis
Made by the region’s highest-quality producers, this petit Chablis is a must-try. Although the style is an afterthought for many domaines, this delicious wine is made with the same attention to detail as the estate’s other bottlings. Fruit comes from a 2.5-hectare parcel of young vines that yield lower amounts of grapes than usual, meaning that fruit is concentrated and flavor-packed. The wine ferments with native yeasts and is aged for nine months in stainless steel. Expect flavors of green apple, tangy citrus, underripe peach, and a touch of flint.
Patrick Piuze Les Forêts 1er Cru
Montreal native Patrick Piuze moved to Burgundy to work with Jean-Marc Brocard, Leflaive, and other regional greats prior to creating his own label in 2008. Each year, Piuze makes at least eight different wines from hand-harvested fruit, all of which is farmed sustainably. Forêts comes from a Premier Cru vineyard site on the left bank of the Serien River. Fruit is spontaneously fermented and fermented and aged in used barrels for 10 months. White flowers, underripe melon, crushed seashells, and a touch of tropical fruit lead to a long-lasting finish.
Paul Nicolle Vieilles Vignes
Based in the village of Fleys, Paul Nicolle (which is now officially run by Paul’s son Charly Nicolle) comprises 20 hectares of soon-to-be-certified-organic vines. Fruit for the old-vine cuvée comes from 25-to-30-year old vines rooted in Kimmerdgian clay-limestone soils. Post-fermentation, the wine ages on its lees for 12 to 18 months in steel prior to bottling. Notes of lemon, white flowers, oyster shell, and chalk dust jump from the wine’s vibrant palate. In terms of quality-to-price ratio, this may just be one of the best bottles of Chablis on the market.
Vincent Dauvissat Vaillons Chablís 1er Cru
When it comes to Chablis, Dauvissat (and nearby Raveneau) reign supreme. This cream-of-the-crop estate was established by Robert Dauvissat in the 1930s, and today, it’s headed by current-generation Vincent and his father René. These limited-quantity wines encompass all that make the wines from this region so great: ripping acidity, striking minerality, and an unbelievably unique reflection of place. Vaillons is rich, round, and terrifically complex, marked by flavors of dried fruits, lemon curd, fresh cut herbs, honey, and chalk that lead to a harmonious palate-coating finish.