Who doesn’t like a Chablis?

Chablis. The word just rolls off the tongue.

Chablis/Rhymes with glee/makes me hap-py…

Ok, so maybe I’m being a bit silly as I write this (and yes, I am sober although a bit hopped up on my third cup of coffee this morning) but I do honestly enjoy a good Chablis. I’ve written about Chablis before, how people are often confused by this wine, not realizing that it is made from 100% chardonnay from the great land of Burgundy. Although Chablis is from Burgundy, unlike it’s cousins to the south, it is a pure expression of the minerality of the soil. Oak is not used as extensively as in southern Burgundy in order to preserve the fresh, lean qualities of  the wine. If oak is used, it’s usually big oak barrels and not the smaller barriques as is common elsewhere.

The soil is an old sea bed that has been pushed up over time by the earth’s movements to form the Kimmeridgian ridge. Composed of the shells of tiny sea creatures, most notably the small oysters called Exogyra Virgula, this gives it its distinctive mineral overtones that is the hallmark of Chablis. Chablis is made up of 4 appellations – petit chablis, chablis, chablie premier cru and chablis grand cru. Each having their own specific production areas and conditions.

I popped down to Central London for a short tasting of the nominees for the 24th annual Chablis Wine contest that the Burgundy Wine Board run every year. The wines were all from the Chablis appellation. Chablis is the biggest of the 4 appellations, producing wines that are best suited to age due to their structure, persistent flavour and volume on the palate. I had the pleasure to taste through a series of 13 2008 Chablis from the Chablis appellation and pick one that I thought was the best representation of the Chablis on tasting. I knew that the top Chablis was in there, as the winners had already been announced, but didn’t know which it was.

After much swishing and spitting, Arnaud Valour, head of marketing for Chablis, asked me to make my judgement. “The ’08 Roland Lavantureux, Lignorelles, Grand Vin de Bourgougne is the standout for me,” I said somewhat hesitantly. “You’re spot on!” Arnaud said as he smiled broadly at me. “That wine won the gold medal this year. You should be one of our judges.” Well, I couldn’t agree more, just let me know when to come down!

The Lavantureux was a fine example of the expression of terroir, a bracing stony minerality on the nose and palate but it was also a bit fuller then the others having a rather plush body for a Chablis but still retaining it’s freshness and not falling into middle aged flabbiness. A hint of florality on the nose with ample fruit flavours, green apple and citrus being most predominate and the oak hanging in the background. Not extremely complex but Chablis are not meant to be, go to Grand cru or further south in Burgundy if that’s what you’re looking for. As for me, I enjoyed this chabby very much and can see it being an excellent partner for a summer’s picnic of chicken salad or prawn mayo. I’d like to say I had it with a nice meal but the bottle they presented to me was taken home and enjoyed with friends, not a bad way to end the day.

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