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The Wine Region of Chablis

Poor Chablis has worked hard for centuries to established it’s brand and reputation only to have it historically depreciated by a bunch of post-prohibitionary wine marketing brothers named Ernest and Julio. I’m not sure the exact year that the Gallo’s began marketing their light white wine as Chablis or even Mountain Chablis through their Carlo Rossi label but the Carlo Rossi brand started in 1962. So my guess is that the great Chablis Brand has been co-opted by American wine marketers for at least fifty years! Here is a wonderful example of the Chablis brand being co-opted by the Gallo’s

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Chablis is a large region in the Yonne Départment surrounding the Serein River. The region is about half way between Champagne and Sancerre and just a few miles southeast of Champagnes Aube region.

Chablis is the northern outpost of Burgundy and has a total of 10,000 acres of vines planted. The AC’s are Petit Chablis (1,200 acres), Chablis (6,700 acres), Chablis Premier Cru (1,800 acres) and Chablis Grand Cru (262 acres).

There are two regions in the neighborhood  that allow other grapes besides the ubiquitous Chardonnay (which is the only grape allowed in Chablis et al). Just south in the greater Départment of Yonne are Irancy and Saint-Bris. Irancy is the area’s only red wine produced from Pinot Noir and a tiny bit of César (a grape from the Roman era), while Sauvignon Blanc is the grape of Saint-Bris, hence it’s AC of Sauvignon-St-Bris. The reason we see Sauvignon Blanc here in this part of Burgundy is the region shares both the soil and climate of Sancerre. So it actually makes sense.

There are seven Grand Crus (the best vineyard sites) in Chablis and forty Premier Crus (second best sites), though the rules for Chablis Premier Cru allows the lesser known vineyards that are designated as Premier Cru to be labeled as the closest of the seventeen most famed Crus. (*a Cru is the French name for a specifically named site/vineyard).

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The seven Grand Crus from west to east are: Bougros, Les Preuses, Vaudésir, Valmur, Les Clos and Blanchot. As each great producer doesn’t own vineyards in every one of these, each has an opinion of the best based on their holdings! But the general consensus is that Les Clos is the best. The Les Clos vineyard is so steep that in 1954 the locals used it for skiing.

The Premier Crus that are closest and have similar climate and soil (and since they use the same grape, winemaking techniques, culture and food the similar Terroir) are the best. Those vineyards are Mont Milleau, Monte de Tonnerre and Fourchaume.

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Below are some are a few quiz questions about Chablis…

Blanchot is one of seven Grand Crus in the Chablis region of Burgundy, which two are also Grand Crus of Chablis:

  • La Tache
  • Vaudésir
  • Les Clos
  • Clos Vougeot
  • Clos des Ducs

Chablis is divided into a hierarchy; which is considered to be in the lowest level in quality?

  • Chablis
  • Petit Chablis
  • Chambolle
  • St-Bris
  • Chablis Premier Cru

How many Grand Crus are in Chablis?

How many Premier Cru vineyards are in Chablis?

How many Premier Cru names are relevant today?

Saint-Bris is the only Burgundy region to allow this grape:

What are two factors that make the vineyards of Grand Cru Chablis better than surrounding Chablis vineyards?

What makes the Petit Chablis AC inferior to Chablis AC, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru?

What river flows through the Chablis region of France?

Which Chablis Grand Cru is considered the best and steepest?

Which Chablis Premier Crus are closest to the Grand Crus in both quality and geographically?

View of Chablis, Burgundy, from the north, wit...