Although quite apart from the Burgundy vineyard region, Chablis is a Burgundy; but not the only white one, as is sometimes erroneously supposed. It is in the departement of the Yonne and, before the Phylloxera, was responsible for one-third of all Burgundy produced, most of the wine going to Paris. Today, the vineyard area is much smaller (which is why cynics say that it would be impossible for the region to supply all the ‘Chablis’ drunk in Paris alone), and only wines of quality are produced, all of them white.
True Chablis, however, is not yellow in tone at all, but lemony with a curious greenish tinge at the edge of the wine; it is rather pale and definitely not the more golden colour of other white Burgundies. Also, unlike them and most white wines, it dies not usually darken with age. It is a very dry wine, far too dry for many people really to like. It is also, so far as the great growths are concerned, a very big, imposing wine, able to complement rich fish dishes with unctuous sauces. Real Chablis is almost minerally dry, and this extreme dryness, especially at the end of the wine (the taste that lingers in the mouth), plus the odd, shimmering pale colour, are the clues to ‘the real thing’. There is nothing wrong in people not liking it – probably very few beginners or the inexperienced in wine would do so, and would be far more pleased with a Muscadet or white wine from the Loire (which is quite close to the Chablis vineyard in its Sancerre and Pouilly regions). As real Chablis cannot possibly be cheap, it must be stressed that no open or carafe wine offered as ‘Chablis’ is likely to be 100% genuine Chablis, simply because there is just not enough to go round at a low price. The wine so referred to may be perfectly good and even have some Chablis in it; but it is actually more likely to be a white Macon or something similar.
the grand crus:
These are Blanchots, Les Clos, Valmur, Grenouilles, Vaudesir, Les Preuses and Bougrots. Moutonne is a growth that is considered by many to be a GrandCru, but which is not officially acknowledged as such. the premiers crus: These are Chapelot, Cote de Fontenay, Vaupulent, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu, Mont6e de Tonnerre, Pied d’Aloup, Vaucourin, Vaulorent, Beaurroy, Beugnons, Butteaux, Chatains, Cote de Lechet, LesForets, LesLys, Melinots, Montmain, SecheTroesme, Vaillons, Cote de Vaillons, Vosgros.
Chablis by itself on a label means that the wine will come from one of the individual vineyards of the district, although it can only be a named plot if from one of those authorised by I.N. A.O. Petit Chablis comes from plots behind the main Chablis vineyard, and is not necessarily an inferior wine to ordinary Chablis, although it will be a smaller-scale wine than one of the great growths.