In 1938, when the AOC of Chablis was created, it was mandated that only Chardonnnay grapes were permitted in a wine labeled Chablis. Though other grape varietals are permitted to be grown, they must be labeled Bourgogne AOC.
Many professionals believe Chablis is the truest expression of Chardonnay because of the simple wine-making practices of the region. The majority of wines of are made using stainless steel instead of oak barrels. Chablis was originally aged in barrels that had been previously used and were therefore considered ‘neutral’ (imparting no oak characteristics into the wine). As modern technology came along, the use of these neutral oak barrels fell out of favor due to the lack of control wine makers had over faults in the oak. In a controversial, modern day twist, some new wine makers have begun to use newer oak barrels that do impart oak flavors into the wine. This is frowned upon by the purists due to the long standing stylistic history of Chablis.
The most favorable and interesting part of Chablis has to be its unique soil, which dates back over 180 million years ago to the Jurassic Ages. Chablis is situated on what is known as Kimmeridgean (kim-er-di-jen) Chalk soils; made up of limestone, clay and tiny fossilized oyster shells. This is truly the only place in the world where grapes are grown on these unique soils, making Chablis' flavor profile very distinctive and sought after—especially Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards, which tend to have a mineral, flinty character to them.
There are 7 Grand Cru vineyards located on one southwest facing hill that overlooks the town of Chablis: Bougros, Les Preuses, Vaudesir, Grenouilles, Valmur, Les Clos and Blanchot. These 7 Grand Cru vineyards make up only 3% of the entire Chablis production every year.
When it comes to enjoying wine with food, as well as enjoying a glass by itself, I will say that Chablis is my #1 FAV. If you have not experienced the profoundness of one of these racy Chardonnays, I suggest you go out and grab a bottle at once. In the warm days of summer there is nothing better!