For generations of American wine drinkers, the term Chablis means insipid, slightly sweet white wine that comes from the Central Valley of California. As a wine educator, this is painful, but I can’t blame the wine drinking populace. No, I level the blame with the ATF, and now the TTB, the organizations responsible for promulgating the wine labeling requirements for wine in the US. Many years ago, in their infinite wisdom, the ATF decided to create a set of “generic terms” that could be used on wine labels to help “name” and “market” wines made in the US. Chablis is one such term and it is unfortunate, especially since the French have sought legal protection for most of their more famous AOC’s.
What I want folks to understand is that official French Chablis is Chardonnay in its purest form. Irrigation other than the moisture Mother Nature provides is illegal for AOC wines. This means that the vines in most French vineyards grow deep into the sub-soil searching for precious water. The depth of these root systems allows the vine to take up a lot of complex minerality from the soil. In the case of Chablis the sub-soil is prehistoric sea shells, which produce a distinctly chalky note. Arguably this is one reason that Chablis is the near-perfect accompaniment to oysters…
The Domaine Costal, another partnership involving Kermit Lynch is stunning Chablis. The other stunning factor is the price – average retail of $29.99 per bottle is a remarkable value. If you prefer your Chardonnay as an expression of the fruit and not winemaking techniques, then this is a wine for you!
My tasting note:
Green apple and mineral nose – clean with just a tiny hint of oak. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity – rich – well balanced. Tart, citrus palate with lemon, apple and pear notes. Long finish with a purity of fruit – delightful! Drinking well now and should improve with another 5 to 7 years in bottle. A good value in Chablis!