Disclosure: The wines were provided to me as media samples. All opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
Chablis is the northern most major wine-growing region in Bourgogne (Burgundy). The town of Chablis lies almost halfway between Paris and Beaune in the Serein River Valley. The region produces only white wine made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape. There are four levels of appellations representing a quality hierarchy based on soil and location, from the most esteemed; Grand Cru, Premier Cru, Chablis, and Petit Chablis. Chablis is known for its pure varietal flavors, distinctive acidity, minerality, and citrus flavors. Chardonnay from Chablis is like no other in the world.
This month the French Winophiles explore the wine-growing region of Chablis located in Bourgogne (Burgundy). Join us on Twitter, Saturday, May 15th at 11:00 AM ET (using hashtags #winophiles & #purechablis) as we discover what makes this exclusively Chardonnay producing region unlike any other in the world. Don’t forget, the best way to explore, understand, and appreciate a wine region is to taste the wine. I will be tasting Chablis with a few food and wine pairing suggestions.
What Makes Chablis unlike any other Chardonnay in the World
“Chablis is Chardonnay, but not every Chardonnay is Chablis” ~ Rosemary George, MW
It is the unique terroir that makes Chablis unlike any other Chardonnay in the world.
- Climate: Chablis lies near the world’s northern limit for successful viticulture. The climate is semi-continental with Atlantic influences.
- Vineyard Location: The vineyards located on sun facing slopes along the Serein River get the most heat and sunlight helping to ripen the grapes.
- Soils: Kimmeridgian marl (limestone-rich clay, formed 160 million years ago) found in the Grand Cru and Premier Cru AOCs, known for producing “the richest, fleshiest, most powerful, and longest-lived <Chardonnay>” (source: “The Sommelier’s Atlas of Taste”).
- Portlandian marl (harder, drier, and less clay, formed 140-150 million years ago) located in the Chablis AOC and Petit Chablis AOC vineyards, producing wines with high acidity, broader, and less edgy flavors.
Petit Chablis (19% of total production) – A zesty wine with fresh citrus and mineral notes. Meant to be consumed within two years after harvest.
Chablis (66% of total production) – A fresh, crisp wine that displays the purity of Chardonnay. A steely character with minerality, flint, lemon, and sometimes flavors of green apple, mint, licorice, and freshly cut hay. It is frequently produced using stainless steel and/or neutral barrels, undergoes malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity, and rest time on its lees. Over time with aging, the wine turns a more golden color and exhibits spicy notes.
Premier Cru Chablis (14% of total production) – These wines tend to have more structure and length on the palate than the wines from the Chablis AOC. Each of the 40 climats has its individual character depending on the vineyard’s location, soil, and aspect. The wines have good aging potential, 5-10 years).
Grand Cru Chablis (1% of total production) – Grand Cru Chablis is rich with intense mineral and flint aromas. Over time, notes of linden, nuts, and honey can emerge. It is not uncommon for producers to use some new oak when aging the wine. The aging potential is 10-15 years.
My Wine Tasting and Food Pairing Notes
2019 Bernard Defaix, Petit Chablis
12% abv | ~ $25.00 (sample) | 100% Chardonnay
Vineyards: Petit Chablis Appellation, vineyards located on top of hills.
Soils: clay and limestone, the Jurassic period
Vinification: The wine is aged in stainless steel on its lees for eight months before bottling.
Pale straw in color. Medium-bodied with medium(+) acidity. On the palate, dry with fresh, crisp acidity. Flavors of lemon-lime citrus, minerals, and a nice round mouthfeel.
Food Pairing: The refreshing acidity and minerality make this an ideal wine to pair with appetizers, mineral-driven seafood like mussels and oysters. I paired this wine with Gnocchi with Spring Vegetables. The freshness and hint of minerals in the vegetables are mirrored in the wine. The texture of the gnocchi was a nice contrast to the acidity while also in harmony with the smooth mouthfeel from the lees aging.
2019 Domaine de La Cornasse, Chablis
12.5% abv | ~ $17.00 (sample) | 100% Chardonnay
Vineyards: 20 to 30 years old with south-east exposure
Soils: Kimmeridgian limestone
Vinification: Temperature controlled tanks
Pale straw in color. Aromas of stone fruit and anise. On the palate, dry with medium body and acidity. Flavors of pink grapefruit and minerals with a round mouthfeel.
Food Pairing: Shellfish, sole, trout, chicken, asparagus, curries, sushi, goat and Emmental cheese. I paired this with a Savory Gruyère Bread with Ham and Herbs. The wine highlights the ham and herb flavors while balancing the saltiness in the ham.
2019 Jean-Marc Brocard, Chablis Vieilles Vignes de Sainte
14.5% abv | $32.00 (sample) | 100% Chardonnay
Vineyards: 60-year-old vines with a southwest exposure in the village of Préhy.
Vinification: Alcoholic fermentation using native yeasts in temperature-controlled tanks, complete malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks on its lees for 12 months.
Pale yellow in color. Aromas of citrus, anise, and minerals. On the palate, dry with medium(+) body and medium acidity. Flavors of concentrated apricot, citrus, and minerals. A rich, round mouthfeel with a long lingering finish.
Food Pairing: The richer and more concentrated flavors of the wine call for a food pairing with more weight and intensity. I paired this with Chicken in a Rich Creamy Tarragon Sauce. The overall weight of the dish matched the medium(+) body and richness of the wine. The wine’s acidity refreshes the palate and contrasts with the richness of the creamy sauce. The hint of anise in the nose of the wine is echoed in the creamy tarragon sauce.
Savory Gruyère Bread with Ham and Herbs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled + more for greasing the pan
- 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour + more for dusting the pan
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup ham, roughly chopped I used Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Uncured Ham Steak
- 3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan.
- In a large shallow bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to combine. Mix in the chopped ham, chives, thyme, and 1-1/2 cups of the cheese. (Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese for the topping).
- In a medium shallow bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix to combine. The batter will seem dry but mix until the flour mixture is incorporated with the wet ingredients.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top. Sprinkle the 1/4 cup Gruyère over the top.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the top is just golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Transfer to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.
Gnocchi with Spring Vegetables
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1/2 lb. Rainbow chard, de-stemmed, cut stems into thin slices, leaves coarsely chopped (keep stems and leaves separate)
- 2 medium size cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- kosher sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 lb. potato gnocchi, fresh, frozen or shelf stable
- 1-1/4 cups fresh sugar snap peas, de-stemmed and slice in half crosswise
- 1 cup asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon if you have fresh tarragon use 2 tablespoons
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, for serving
- Parmesan,grated for serving
- lemon wedges, for serving
- In a large Dutch-oven ( 6qt), melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and chard stems, cooking until tender and lightly golden, about 7-10 minutes. Watch carefully so the leeks do not take on too much color, adjust heat if needed.
- Add the garlic, thyme, a large pinch of salt, and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for about one minute. Add the wine, stirring to scrape up brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Reduce the wine by half, about 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the gnocchi and chard leaves. Cook partially covered for 15 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas, asparagus, and tarragon. Continue to simmer, partially covered, for another 5-10 minutes or until the gnocchi are cooked through. Adjust seasoning.
- To serve, sprinkle with parsley, parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.
Chicken with a Creamy Tarragon Sauce
- 6 Chicken breasts, skin-on and bone-in
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon
- 3 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1-1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Calvados (optional)
- Season the chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large sauté pan, melt three tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Place the chicken breasts skin side down in the pan. Cook until the chicken is golden brown in color and then turn the chicken to the other side. Add the shallots and 3/4 teaspoon of the tarragon. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for fifteen minutes.
- Remove the cover and add the wine. Return the cover to the pan and cook for another 15 minutes. With an instant read thermometer, check the chicken temperature, it should register 165 F. If needed continue to simmer the chicken. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a platter and cover with foil.
- In a small bowl mash together the flour with the remaining two tablespoons of butter to make a beurre manié.
- Add one cup of heavy cream to the sauté pan, and stir. Bring to a low simmer and blend in the beurre manié a little at a time. Continue to stir and simmer for about 5 minutes or until you reach the desired consistency. Add the Calvados if using, stir to mix. Then add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
- Return the chicken breasts to the sauté pan and spooning some of the sauce over the chicken until the chicken is warm. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of tarragon.Serve with rice and a simple salad.
More Chablis articles from the French Winophiles ~
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairing gives us All Things #PureChablis with an Assortment of Seafood Snacks’ by Chinese Food and Wine Pairings.
- Camilla is Learning About Chablis, A Compelling Label, and Gougères at Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen makes A Poke Quartet Paired with a Duo of Chablis.
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! will be Remembering a Walk in Chablis over Dinner.
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass is Keeping it Simple with #PureChablis.
- Chablis and Grilled Shrimp; Summertime must be near for Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm.
- Scallops with Pesto and Chablis are in the kitchen with David at Cooking Chat.
- Jane will be Tasting Chablis: Food and Wine Pairings over at Always Ravenous.
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles is Savoring Premier Cru Chablis as We Hope for Good News for the 2021 Chablis Vintage.
- Nicole at the Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Aged Drouhin Vaudon Grand Cru Chablis with Swordfish Sandwiches.
- Rupal the Syrah Queen explores The Elegance of Chablis – Pure Terroir, Pure Joy, Pure Chablis.
- The Sea in Chablis and the Tragedy of Premox in William Fevre is the topic at Wine Predator with Gwendolyn.
- Payal at Keep the Peas discusses The Singularity of Chablis.
- Host Jill on L’Occasion, gives the scoop on Here’s How I Know It’s Chablis.