White wine lovers may find heaven in the northern reaches of Burgundy, and the steely Chardonnay that comes from the magical place they call Chablis. White wine from Burgundy is perhaps the greatest wine in the world, and it’s often the most expensive, but the northern reaches of the region, where wines are grown around the village of Chablis. Winemaking in this region dates to the 12th century but Chablis’ recent history is more dynamic, and frankly, a little bit crazy.
The northern reaches of this region mean cold weather, and some times that weather plays havoc in the more southern reaches of Burgundy, so in Chablis it can be complete insanity. The weather here was so bad between 1950 and 1960 that there were only three harvests for the region, in a decade, it’s a wonder they survived. At one point some of the Grand Cru sites were actually being used as ski slopes.
Despite all that craziness, or perhaps because of it, Chablis makes magical white wines with zing and zip. The clay and especially the limestone marl and Kimmeridgian fossil rich soils that give Chablis their mineral, flinty character. Aside from the soil and the cooler weather, the use of stainless steel production makes sure that the wine retain their freshness and zip as their bottled, and can age quite well, but are plenty of fun to drink fresh.
2015 Domaine Denis Race Petit Chablis, France $17
Petit Chablis is the region just outside of the the Chablis AOC and it should not be dismissed as a lesser wine, though the soils in this AOC are a bit younger. While the concentration of limestone and fossilized soils may not be as intense in this area, the wines can be fantastic. This wine is pale green hued, and super fresh aromatics explode from the glass. Cut lime, orange zest and a hint of white flowers. The palate is lively and energetic. Flavors of lime zest, white slate and a touch of salinity. Out of sight!
2015 Joseph Drouhin Vaudon Chablis, France $19
From one of Burgundy’s most important names comes a classically styled Chablis. Drouhin is known for their 130 years and 4 generations of wine in Burgundy’s heart and soul, the village of Beaune, but they source fruit from 90 different appellations, and they never, ever, make a bad wine. If you were to look up Chablis in the dictionary, it should taste like this. Very fresh and crisp with aromatics of peach and nectarine, lots of depth of flavors with bright yet fleshy apricot, peach fuzz and wet stone. Loads of zing on the finish. Drouhin does it again.
From the right bank of the Serein River perched high on steep slopes, Le Fourneaux offers a powerful example of what Chablis can be and in good vintages is often exceptional.
Wooohooo, this is an exciting wine. Dialed in aromas of lemon, slate, white flowers and gun flint. The palate is a doozy, with loads of depth, rich roundness and mineral driven complexity. The flavors of lemon, iron and a sort of salty minerality make a strong case of why Chablis is so cool. The finish is long and lively.
2013 Domaine Vocoret & Fils, Chablis Premier Cru Les Forets, France $35
The Les Forets cru parcel is on the left back of the Serein River, within a larger parcel of vineyards known as Montmains. Les Forets is situated in the center of this larger area with bedrock just a few feet below the stony soil. The Vocoret label is into its fourth generation of winemakers founded in 1870.
The aromas are balanced between ripe fruit like fleshy peach and pineapple along with smoke, flint and wet stone. The palate is round and bright with racing acid and great viscosity. The Flavors of lemon creme, gooseberry with hints of nutmeg and spice. There’s layers of complexity that can only be found in white wines from Burgundy and Chablis. The finish is viscous and yet thirst quenching.