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Four appellations, one varietal

The wines of Chablis explained by Lyne Marchive, winemaker in Chablis.

A bunch of Chardonnay grapes for Chablis/Bourgogne/Burgundy/French wines/Chablis

Bourgogne white wines of outstanding quality, the wines of Chablis are made from one single varietal: Chardonnay. They are sub-divided into four appellations:

  • Petit Chablis
  • Chablis
  • Chablis Premier Cru
  • Chablis Grand Cru

These are identified by precisely delimited production zones, and are subject to strict production regulations. Logically, the higher up the hierarchy, the tighter these regulations.

Chablis wines are dry white wines which are characterized by their purity, crispness, sophistication and minerality. The Chardonnay varietal gives results in Chablis unlike anywhere else. It draws its personality and character from a subsoil that is 150 million years old, and ripens in ideal conditions, in a semi-continental climate, which allow it to attain a good balance between sugar levels and acidity.

Today, the area planted in Chablis is just over 5,400ha. In 1955, after the phylloxera crisis in the 19th century which ravaged France's vineyards, then two world wars, Chablis covered no more than 550ha of vine. Nonetheless, not all the appellation's territory is planted as yet: the delimited zone comprises 6,800ha spreading along the valley of the Serein, the river which runs through the wine region from south to north before flowing into the Yonne.

The volumes produced have changed in accordance with the increase in area cultivated, with minor variations due to climatic vagaries. In 2014, the harvest amounted to slightly over 308,000hl, the equivalent of 40 million bottles.

 

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Interactive map of Chablis appellations