September 2012 – Chablis

Taste to Learn September 2012 – Chablis


This month’s Taste to Learn was hosted by Pam and Singh Dhillon. Everyone was welcomed with a tour through their home and their abundant garden. Singh also showed us his wine making and storage room which is kept at a nice cool temperature.


The wine presented this month at the Taste to Learn was Chablis from France. Chablis is not a style of wine; it’s a place, and the wines that come from that place are 100% Chardonnay and are also called Chablis. Its wines are so revered, though, that winemakers all over the world have borrowed the name for their own white wines, though none comes close to the real article.


Chablis earns its crisp, bright, mineral-filled flavors from its unique position, far northwest of the rest of Burgundy.  The very cool climate in combination with a soil high in limestone and ancient oyster shells (no joking) makes for lean green Chardonnays that seem designed for drinking with oysters on the half shell.  Chardonnay is so prevalent in Burgundy that it’s considered unnecessary to mention the grape in a white wine unless it’s not Chardonnay.  So, if a white wine from Burgundy doesn’t list a grape on the label, you can be sure that it is made from Chardonnay.  If  White Burgundy is on the label it is Chardonnay.


At its lightest, Chardonnay can be refreshing, with lots of bracing acidity and flavors that recall lemon, lime, green apple, and sometimes a hint of spice such as nutmeg.  These Chardonnays tend to come from cool areas like Burguandy, where the grapes don’t get super ripe and retain strong acidity, and they are usually made in stainless steel tanks instead of oak barrels.  Unlike American Chardonnays which are big, buttery, oaky and rich that come from sunny warmer regions. Chablis isn’t oaked and is crisp due to its high acidity and cool climate.


We tasted eight Chablis, starting with a Grand Cru Chablis which comes from a highly regarded vineyard. It was our benchmark example which was followed through to be our number one choice for the group scores.  We tasted 7 others where we found flinty minerality with a steeliness quality,  less oak, less fruit but crisp and green flavors with the terroir coming through with a hint of limestone.


Grilled chicken on the barbeque was the main course with side salads, appetizers and desserts shared and enjoyed by all.