Words: Henry Yuen ( Chinese post: http://taiyangbao.ca/food/348262 )
I recently talked about the cache and status that Champagne brings forward and how the whole sparkling wine world look up to Champagne with awe and revere. Champagne’s esteemed reputation has always been invariably shared by imitators who liberally use the name and by novice drinkers who misuse it.
Evidently, Chablis is in the same boat. Chablis takes on the same challenge to convince to the world that only wines made from Chardonnay grapes grown in the Chablis region in France can be called Chablis. Other Chardonnays around the world should never have the word “Chablis” in their labels! So why is Chablis so unique that a lot of other Chardonnay wines want to associate with it?
For one, Chardonnay is the only grape varietal produced in the area surrounding the village of Chablis in France. Located in the northern part of Burgundy, it has about 10,000 acres of vines planted in a relatively cool climate region. Soil is predominately clay and limestone as a result of the area being under sea level million years ago and yielding in lots of fossils such as sea shells and oyster sediments. The unique terroir generally produces wines that carry handsome crispness with bright acidity, minerality and a hint of wet earth. It is this distinct characteristic that makes Chablis famous!
Usually un-oaked and 100% Chardonnay, Chablis is fresh, lively yet elegant. The word ‘elegant’ is aptly and frequently used to describe Chablis for its tantalizing flavour profile and lush golden colour. Usage of oak aging introduced by certain contemporary winemakers recently started to give the wines a more balanced profile. While the region has warm days and cool nights, early spring frost can sometimes wipe out substantial crops, hence the importance of selecting good vintages. Needless to say, such year by year fluctuation pushes up the demand for preferred vintages and consequently, higher price points.
I had the chance to learn more about the wines of Chablis at a wine-pairing 3 course dinner at Secret Location Restaurant in Gastown. Conducted by three of Vancouver’s celebrated sommeliers - Brooke Delves from Wildebeest; Jason Yamasaki of Chambar and Roger Maniwa of Hawksworth. Each chef recommended one Chablis to pair with each course and asked the guests to choose their preferences. The refreshing La CHABLISIENNE, Chablis La Pierrelee 2010 we sipped with fresh oysters prior dinner has already heightened our anticipation. The nine smartly selected Chablis were indeed the perfect presentation for a fun and educational evening.
- Domaine DROUHIN VAUDON, Chablis Grand Cru Vaudesir 2009
- Domaine BILLAUD-SIMON, Chablis Premier Cru Montee de Tonnerre 2009
- Domanie A’DAIR, Chablis 2008
- PASCAL BOUCHARD, Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume 2010
- Domaine LOUIS MOREAU, Chablis 2011
- Domaine CHRISTIAN MOREAU Pere et Fils, Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons Cuvee Guy Morneau 2011
- Domaine PATTES LOUP, Chablis 2011
- Jean-Marc BROCARD, Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2010
- Domaine William Fevre, Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2008
Seldom do we have the chance to taste these wines all in one session! These Chablis were poured and discussed to provide the comparison and understanding of Chablis throughout the evening. Such well-organized wine event that allowed us to expand our horizon in the world of Chablis is truly enjoyed and appreciated. It takes wine-drinking to a higher level, for both wine-lovers and novices alike!