The Chablis AOC is the most widespread of the four Chablis appellations found within the Burgundy Region, with the title used for white wines made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, grown in a designated area surrounding Chablis itself and its neighbouring villages.
The appellation was created in 1938 alongside Grand Crus to protect the region's name and status, as the 'Chablis' title was used by other countries as shorthand for any white wine. Chablis wines have a floral aroma and a fresh, fruity, and light taste, and are recommended to be enjoyed when young.
History of Chablis AOC
In the late 1800s, vineyards were severely damaged by phylloxera pests. It took several decades to recover, and many producers decided to abandon winemaking altogether. Two world wars did not make recovery any easier.
For the winemakers who persisted, the Chablis AOC mandated Chardonnay as the sole grape variety because of its suitability to the cooler climate. However, in the 1950s, frost wiped out vineyards. Plantings dropped to 1% of the original acreage at the start of the 19th century. As a result, various technologies are now in place to combat spring frost including using fuel-burning metal heaters and windmills to increase hyperlocal temperatures. Some growers use heated wires and thermo-protective fabrics. These technologies and the growth of popularity of Chardonnay have contributed to the revival of Chablis, one of the most recognized appellations in the world.
Southeast of Paris, Chablis lies within Burgundy at the northernmost point. It is known for its cool climate which makes it the perfect place to grow Chardonnay grapes. The Serein river runs through the hilly and forested region of Chablis. The soil type is mostly Kimmeridgian marl, also found in southern parts of the nearby region of Champagne.
Within Burgundy, there is a four-tier quality system for wines. The top tier is Grand Cru, followed by Premier Cru, followed by Village level, and finally followed by regional Bourgogne wines. Chablis somewhat follows the tiers of labelling with the following appellations: Grand Cru (representing 2% of production), Premier Cru (25% of production), Chablis (60% of production), and Petit Chablis (13% of production). However, it is important to note that Petit Chablis is its own appellation and would be labelled as such, rather than as a generic Bourgogne white wine. Total production of Chablis is said to be approximately 32 million bottles per year.
Most Chablis wines are vinified in stainless steel tanks. At the Premier Cru and Grand Cru tiers, you start to see some oak treatment. The amount of oak usage is a point of contention among winemakers in the region.
Grape Varieties and Blends
Chardonnay is the most planted grape in all of Burgundy. Almost half of all the grapes planted in Burgundy are Chardonnay grapes. Pinot Noir is the most planted red grape in the region. Other grape varieties planted in the region include Gamay, Aligoté, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and a few others in smaller planting sizes.
While there are many grape varieties used in the region of Burgundy, Chablis wines must be made of 100% Chardonnay as per the laws of the appellation.
Buy Chablis AOC Wine from Hourlier Wines
We at Pierre Hourlier Wines are delighted to be partnering with Dampt Frères and showcasing their award-winning wines. Bernard Dampt bought his first grapevines in 1980 with dreams of creating a winery to pass down to his three sons. Proudly a family-owned producer, they now operate vineyards in Tonnerre and Chablis. They sell 900,000 bottles of wine each year! Read about our selection of Dampt Frères Chablis wines below.
The aromas of green apple, pear, grapefruit, lemon, and crème fraiche supported by delicate minerality and freshness make this wonderful Premier Cru Chablis an excellent pairing for fish and chicken. This wine was vinified 35% in casks and 65% in stainless steel.
This excellent Grand Cru offers aromas of lemon, white flowers, delicate minerality, crème fraiche, and vanilla balanced by freshness on the palate. It pairs beautifully with fish and chicken. This wine was vinified 35% in casks and 65% in stainless steel.
What type of wine is Chablis AOC?
Chablis wines are bone dry to dry, very fresh, medium-bodied, and moderate in alcohol. They’re generally pale in colour. Aromas on the nose include green apple, green pear, lemon, white flowers, and crème fraiche. Grand Cru Chablis wines sometimes also take on a nutty hazelnut or almond quality.
What is the best Chablis AOC wine?
We are proud to offer a spectacular selection of Chablis wines here at Pierre Hourlier Wines. We stock Dampt Frères’ award-winning Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis, and Petit Chablis wines. You can view the selection here.
Which food groups pair well with Chablis AOC?
The freshness and complex aromas of Chablis wines make them a beautiful pairing for shellfish, fish, and cheeses. A classic pairing is a glass of Chablis with oysters. Steamed lobsters, shellfish pasta dishes, sushi, and grilled halibut or tuna are also lovely choices. Chablis pairs well with various cheeses, in particular those with strong aromas and flavours, including goat cheese, Swiss cheese, Comté, and sharp cheddar. Chablis offers a fresh, fruity, and delicately creamy aromatic profile that complements all the aforementioned dishes beautifully.