For this week’s wine post part 1, we will be focusing on Old World Chardonnay, for example, Chablis from Burgundy region of France, unoaked Chardonnay, and Old World and New World aged Rieslings (part 2 in a follow-up post) as requested by Tambi Schweizer, friend and follower of the blog. Hopefully this topic sparks interest among other followers as well. These wine styles can be different from what we are used to drinking from California, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa to name a few, especially in the case of New World Chardonnay.
The most notable unoaked Chardonnays hail from the village of Chablis. Chablis is a wine region and style of Chardonnay made in the Burgundy region of France located in the north corner very proximal to the Champagne region. The best vineyards are planted on slopes with favorable south-facing aspects for ripeness because the climate is generally cool. Chablis is 100% Chardonnay made in a crisp, light, and lean style with tons of minerality. Unlike other Chardonnay wines, Chablis rarely uses oak aging, resulting in a different style and taste profile with hopes to retain pure fruit flavors by fermenting and storing in concrete or stainless steel. Most of Burgundy produces a less acidic, richer, oaked, fuller style.
Wines from Chablis have citrus and white flower aromas with flavors of citrus, pear, minerality, and salinity. Chablis rarely displays flavors of butter or have a creamy texture because of the lack of oak-aging. One of the most desirable traits in quality Chablis is a long finish with high acidity. Lesser quality Chablis will have medium-high acidity. Much of the lean and elegant taste of Chardonnay from Chablis is attributed to the qualities of the soil, climate, and traditions of the region where they are classified as premier cru and grand cru. The bottles will most likely not say Chardonnay, but rather the village, sub-village, producer, cru, and Chablis (see attached image).
It is renowned for its unoaked Chardonnay style, which is popular around the world, including the Finger Lakes, where its trending up over the last few years. You will find many Chablis-styled, unoaked Chardonnays in the FLX region, NYS, and Virginia. This is my preferred style of Chardonnay along with Tambi.
Chablis was traditionally used as a dry white wine for cooking. I'm sure you can remember when the term 'Chablis" was synonymous with cooking wine. Well, its come a long way from just being used for that purpose. The best food pairings take advantage of the wine’s natural high acidity to act as a palate cleanser and work well with delicately creamy sauces. Due to the lighter, more delicate taste profile of Chardonnay, you should choose lighter meats and fishes as your base ingredient, including chicken, halibut, cod, clams, scallops, sushi, or oysters (highly recommended due to the soil in Chablis being crushed seashells.