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A white wine from the north of Burgundy, France which is made entirely from chardonnay grapes. Unlike many new world wines which are labelled as chardonnay, an Appellation Chablis does not contain any other grape.

A Chablis is dry and medium to full bodied. Most Chablis is produced using little or no oak. This makes it slightly lighter, more characterful and less appealing to yuppies than other wines of similar composition. Descriptions of a Chablis will often use the terms nutty and steely. A young Chablis is acidic — it is best to select a wine that has been aged for at least five years. Recent exceptional vintages for Burgundy include 1995 and 1996.

All good Chablis will be labelled Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée or AOC (although AOC does not necessarily indicate a good Chablis). Like many French wine producing regions, Burgundy includes further designations for vineyards which were historically of very high quality. The mark Grand Cru is used on the best vineyards, whilst Première Cru is used on vineyards which were merely very good. However, these marks are not as reliable an indicator of quality as the Bordeaux system.

The Petit Chablis Appellation is used for wines from outlying areas. These tend to lack some of the character of a full Chablis, and may not age so well.

Recently, certain low quality North American wines have started labelling themselves as 'Chablis'. These wines are to a Chablis as the watches sold on London street corners are to a Rolex. It will be a shame if the name Chablis becomes associated with diluted, over-oaked piss in a bottle rather than a traditional French wine from the area around the town of Chablis. The ludicrous phrase 'French Champagne' is torture enough.

Chablis goes well with non-oily fish such as salmon, tuna and whitefish, and is also popular with oysters. The wine has enough of a punch to stand up well with heavier sauces. Considerable success has also been had serving Chablis with lighter Japanese food, although holding back on the wasabi is advisable when attempting this.

Cha*blis" (?), n. [F.]

A white wine made near Chablis, a town in France.

<-- 2. a white wine resembling Chablis[1], but made elsewhere, as in California. -->


© Webster 1913.

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