When I used to think of Chablis, I always had the vision of it being like Chardonnay’s little sister; always just too young to sit at the grown-ups’ table. And when I shopped for a white wine, I’d pretty much bypass it for some other (any other) alternative. That was very short-sighted.
Produced in the Northern district of Burgundy, Chablis is comprised of Chardonnay. Cool regional climate produces a, dry, higher acid, less fruity wine than its big sister. Chablis is generally less oakey, due to less time maturing in the barrel.
Chablis has three quality levels:
- Petit Chablis ~ Produced on the outskirts of Chablis, varies in quality, is matured in stainless steel tanks and should be enjoyed young. It is the least expensive Chablis. Pair with cheese, cooked shrimp.
- Chablis Premier Cru ~ Cultivated on the best site vineyards, Premier Cru comprises 1/4 of the total Chablis production. Pairing suggestion: unbaked: grilled or poached fish with buttery | creamy sauces. Naked: buttery seafood, crab, roast chicken. The acidity of the wine will help cut into the butter.
- Chablis Grand Cru ~ Grown on west-facing hill directly above the village of Chablis, which allow maximum heat accumulation to grow and ripen the grapes. Both Premier Cru and Grand Cru Chablis spend some time maturing in oak barrels, but less time, generally, than traditional Chardonnay. Premier and Grand Cru chablis can be safely cellared for 10 years or longer. Pairing suggestion: roast veal, steamed or grilled lobster, heavy rind cheeses.
The flavors tend to be reminiscent of wet stones, stone fruit with a bit of citrus. It is pale yellow (almost green) in color, with earthy, savory rather than sweet aromas. Since the flavors are more subtle, it’s really important to serve it lightly chilled: 10-13C (50-55F).
So go ahead, invite the little one to dine with the grown-ups. You’ll find it to be a subtle and very interesting dinner companion.