What is Chablis?
Chablis is a region in northern Burgundy located about 200km south east of Paris. The appellation surrounds the small town of Chablis and covers about 7,500 acres. The large majority of grapes grown here are Chardonnay, apart from in the wine appellation of Saint-Bris where Sauvignon Blanc is allowed to be grown (but it is not allowed to be called ‘Chablis’). Producers such as Domaine Ghislaine et Jean-Hugues Goisot make some stunning Sauvignon Blanc and are experimenting with Sauvignon Gris/Fié Gris!
The soil in Chablis is kimmeridgien limestone clay and limestone, made up of fossilied oyster shells. There is a chalky texture to the soil and being porous, it means there is good drainage; the roots are not ever water logged and encourages them to develop deep roots into the soil and it bodes well with grapes of high acidity.
In Chablis, there’s a semi-continental climate with cold winters and usually hot summers. Spring frosts are a threat to the vines. Wineries use smudge pots and heaters and some spray the vines to try and avoid frost in the vineyard.
The wines from Chablis tend to have a mineral note to them. Think along the lines of …..what would the chalk of those white cliffs of Dover taste like if you licked it? Due to the climate the wines are very high in acidity; a crisp acidity style with notes of lemon peel, touch herbal and those mineral aromas. Every wine is different but in a blind tasting, you’re really looking for that high acidity and minerality/flintyness. There are four ‘appellations contrôlées’ (‘tiers’) in Chablis; Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.
At Swanny Cellars, we stock Chablis from William Fèvre, Domaine Christian Moreau and Patrick Piuze. William Fèvre was established in 1959 with just 7 hectares of vineyards (and now are one of the largest domains with 78 hectares of vineyards) by William Fèvre whose family had lived in the area for more than 250 years.
Domaine Christian Moreau is just 500 metres walk from William Fèvre. It was the first generation, Jean Joseph Moreau who founded the domaine in 1814. Then In 1972, Christian Moreau started to learn about winemaking from his father Guy. Christian’s son Fabien is now the sixth generation of the family involved in the business. He has been Managing Director and Head Winemaker at the Domaine Christian Moreau Pére et Fils since 2001. If you ever head over to Chablis, drop into their tasting rooms which are in the centre of the town, only a few minutes walk from the 4 start hotel, Hostellerie des Clos which has been beautifully converted from what was a hospital.