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Essential Winemakers of France ©Opening a Bottle

Chablis, Burgundy

Primary Grapes: Chardonnay

Primary Appellations/Cru: Chablis AOC, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis Grand Cru

chablisienne.com

 

   

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Why La Chablisienne is Essential

Modern Chablis is a region of exceedingly high-quality wines. Selecting who among them belongs on the Essential Winemakers of France list is no easy task, and in truth, there are a half dozen other producers I am also considering. But La Chablisienne makes the cut because their consistently excellent wines are also widely available. Want to understand Chablis? Start here.

La Chablisienne is Chablis’ largest land-owner and works with 250 growers across roughly 25% of Chablis’ land. Rather than phone it in — as co-ops sometimes do — they make careful decisions about each wine, both in collaboration with growers in the vineyard, and in the winery. For fans of Italian wine, the natural comparison here is to Produttori del Barbaresco: a singular focused co-op that not only leads the way on terroir-centric wines, but also serves as an accessible, widely available ambassador for the appellation. In an interesting twist, the growers are required to press the grapes immediately after harvest and deliver the must to the co-op. The alternative would be a tractor log-jam at the winery.

La Chablisienne is not dogmatic about its oak usage. Here, the sensitivity to each vineyard and its terroir is high, which drives the ultimate decisions on whether to vinify completely in stainless steel, completely in small oak barrels, or a mixture of both. As a result, the wines are character-driven beauties.

Wines to Seek Out

The lineup of wines is true to the regional hierarchy, just with more options: there are three Petit Chablis, five Chablis wines, 12 1er Cru and five Grand Cru. Each classification includes an organic version.

La Chablisienne Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot

La Chablisienne produces five Grand Cru wines, and this towering example shows why there is such a hierarchy in place. Blanchot is often overlooked among Chablis’ Grand Cru because it has the softest approach, but in this wine, it sings with a complex array of aromas ranging from honeycomb and fresh herbs to crisp apple and grapefruit citrus. There is also a note I called “mystical créme brûlée” when I last tasted it. Imagine that sinful dessert without the weight, and you get the idea. A great wine for a special occasion.

La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre

La Chablisienne bottles 12 different 1er cru Chablis wines, with Montée de Tonnerre standing out to me for its supple texture and explosively floral and spicy notes. This is Chablis showing its elusive side: is that cardamom I am smelling? Beeswax? Cut vanilla bean? Their Montée de Tonnerre is an exciting shape-shifter.

Originally listed: July 2019

Visiting La Chablisienne

Visitors are welcome year-round at Le Caveau in Chablis. Reservation required. Contact the winery through their website.

 


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