Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Chablis is the uniquely steely, dry, age-worthy white wine of the most northern vineyards of burgundy in north east France, made, like all fine white Burgundy, from Chardonnay grapes. Paradoxically, however, in the New World, particularly in North America in whose vineyards a wine as austere as Chablis is virtually impossible to produce, the name Chablis has been borrowed as a generic name for the most basic white wine. The true Chablis appellation has increased considerably since the early 1990s and in 2012 included a total of 5,284 ha/just over 13,000 acres of Chardonnay vineyard around the small town of Chablis and 19 other villages and hamlets in the département of the Yonne, near the city of auxerre. Created in 1938, the Chablis appellation comprises four ranks, of which the top is grand cru Chablis, with seven named vineyards. Then come the premiers crus, including 40 vineyard names, then Chablis, by far the most common and infuriatingly variable appellation, and finally Petit Chablis, the lowliest. The best vineyard sites are on the south west facing slopes of the valley of the Serein, the small river that flows through Chablis to join the Yonne.