: The use of oak

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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In the cellar, as elsewhere in France, winemaking techniques improved enormously in the late 20th century, so that there is a better understanding of such elements as malolactic conversion and the need for temperature control during fermentation. The most interesting and controversial aspect of vinification in Chablis is the use of oak, Chablis being the one fine wine area where Chardonnay is not automatically oaked.

Those who favour stainless steel want the purest flavour of Chablis, with the firm streak of acidity and the mineral quality that the French describe as goût de pierre à fusil, or gunflint. Louis Michel’s is generally considered to be the epitome of this style, although others who employ it successfully include Jean Durup, Jean-Marc Brocard, and A. Régnard.