Posted on 6th October 2017 by JN Wine
This confusion is easily understandable, especially when you consider that in Europe, wines are more commonly labelled by where they come from, rather than what they’re made out of; for example, Chianti, Rioja and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are wines, but they are also places. The wines made here are usually a blend of grapes grown within a certain geographic area, and you will rarely find a breakdown of the blend on the bottle or the label.
Back to the topic at hand; Chablis is a town in the Bourgogne (Burgundy) region of central France. The wine is therefore classified as a white Burgundy, and must, by law in Chablis, be made from 100% Chardonnay.
People who say they dislike Chardonnay will most likely base their opinion on the experiences with the Chardonnay that was available to them circa 1980-2000. These wines had questionable production methods, tended to be over oaked, tasted a bit fake or sweet and could generally be considered as awful examples of Chardonnay.
Chablis tends to be unoaked, or sees very little oak treatment. Citrus fruit and the classic “steely” notes pair well with shellfish, particularly lobster and crab. Chablis has a cool climate, leading to a wine with high acidity, with some examples expressing notes more commonly associated with Sauvignon Blanc.
While Chablis is a wonderful wine, which truly showcases the classiness of Chardonnay in its pure, unadulterated form, please don’t write off Oaked Chardonnay. Long gone are the days of unbalanced, flabby Chardonnays from the New World. California produces what we consider to be some of the best Chardonnays available.
Some of us are too young to remember the days of bad Chardonnay, instead cutting our teeth on Bourgogne Blanc or well-made New World Chardonnay, so please feel free to ask our advice on the misunderstood, underappreciated, yet outstanding grape that is Chardonnay, and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction, be that Chablis, Pouilly-Fuissé, California, Chardonnay makes great wines all over the world!
Here are some of our recommended Chardonnays and Chablis: