Love it or hate it. Most of us are in one camp or the other. But do we really know Chardonnay? It is one of those grapes that has so many variables to the untrained palette you may be mistaken to think that you were drinking four completely different types even if all four regions were in front of you.
Its a majestic grape among grapes, but through recent years it has been subject to bad press from consumers. The crazy days of the 1980’s and early 1990’s saw winemakers experiment with oak. Finally going too far and adding too much for consumers to love .
Chardonnay is popular all over the world, it is a versatile grape. Hotter climes gives a more topical flavour to its character while cooler climates give it freshness . So with armed with a bit of knowledge, whether you like Old world or New world ( the classic style or experimental style) Chardonnay has something for everyone.
This weeks blog (and the 3 that will follow it, will highlight Chablis and its differences in an easy unstuffy way) Today it’s Petit Chablis, part of a region of wines in the village of Chablis region where the Chardonnay grape grows in abundance and very little or no oak is used. For those of you who profess not to like Chardonnay I challenge you to try a sip ( The Other Half detests Chardonnay but will happily drink any of those that I put before her).
What to know: In the town of Chablis there are 4 sites or areas of note namely
Chablis Grand Cru. These are of the highest quality vineyards, particularly Les Clos, and have both freshness and age well. Six other Grands Crus include Blanchots, Bougros, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir.
The map of Chablis, below, shows these seven Grand Crus all packed together tightly on the same hillside.
Secondly, Chablis Premier Cru which lie on the west-facing hill immediately above the village of Chablis also and should be drunk young. (also highlights Petit Chablis)
Petit Chablis principally found on the outskirts which were all planted to keep up with global demand
Another thing to know:
Climats and Lieux-dits are often mentioned on Chablis bottles and maps with designated areas. Each pinpoints the many identities of Bourgone wines and signals the unique characteristics of each wine and so define Chablis. (see the wine label below which shows the Lieux dit “Mont de Mileu” ) So where every you see the below names you know that it has comes from a certain part of Chablis and carries a certain characteristic. Good if you like one vineyard – just keep buying from there !!
So forty seven Climats in total: Forty for Chablis Premier Cru, and seven for Chablis Grand Cru. The latter are all on the right bank of the Serein, whereas the Climats of Chablis Premier Cru are on either side of the river, twenty four on the left bank, sixteen on the right bank.
So in essence: Grand Cru Chablis has the most presence of oak, Premier Cru less so, followed by Chablis which shows some sign of oak and finally Petit Chablis which has little or no oak at all
TASTING NOTES – PETIT CHABLIS
Petit Chablis is normally pale gold, the colour of straw sometimes lemony green.
Hints of white flowers together with citrus (lemon and/or lime) with some minerality
(If you licked pebbles as a child you’ll know what minerality is (or was that just me!) For the rest of you think the smell of tarmac after a downpour of rain or the lick a knife!!!!!)
The feel in the mouth is light fresh with good acidity which makes it refreshing ( like witnessing the race of water on the lower jaw when you bite into a Granny Smith apple) .
The wine is to be drunk young from two to four years of age.
Pairs well with oysters, raw fish, and prawns (raw, grilled, or in sauce).
Works well with tripe sausages and snails. Goat cheese, Gouda or Gruyère work well.
But fear not – if none of that graces your dinner table – it is also the ideal wine to accompany a fresh, crisp summer salad.
Serving temperatures: 8°C as a pre-dinner drink, 9 to 10°C with food.
BEST Grape Wizard VINTAGES – Petit Chablis
2010 , 1990 ,
2012, 2005, 2002, 1996, ,1995,
If you want to try the best years work from the top. If you want to invest – work from the top and you cant go far wrong !
(taken scores from a host of leading authors on wine and assesed in a best overall GW score.)
Notable producers include: Brocard, La Chablisienne, Dampt, Dauvissat, Defaix, Droin, Louis Michel, Moreau-Naudet, Raveneau.
Production surface area
Area under production = 884.15 ha.
Over the coming weeks I will be highlighting more Chablis and Premier Cru as well as Grand Cru Chablis. Each has their own style, each has different characteristics to suit different foods. It is a versatile as it is noble.
But for those of you who like little to no oak, try this Petit Chablis from DOMAINE MILLET Petit Chablis 2014