Vineyards - Burgundy

Chablis Vineyard

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These vineyards, totalling more than 4,500 hectares, are today confined to some twenty villages around the little town of Chablis.

They produce exclusively white wines. At one time the Chablis vineyards formed part of a larger wine-growing area in lower Burgundy which also took in the districts around Tonnerre, Avallon, Joigny and Les Riceys and produced, overall, more red wines and roses than whites. Thanks to the ease of water-transportation by the Yonne and the Seine, these wines became very popular in Paris and in Belgium.

After the Phylloxera catastrophe in France, the wine-growers of lower Burgundy, now in competition with the growers of the Midi who were shipping their wines to Paris by means of the new railways, in order to remain profitable were forced to draw their horns and concentrate on those parts of their territory capable of producing great wines. It was the district of Chablis that won out. These vineyards, with their lime-rich soils, facing the sun on either side of the little river Serein, were a worthy home for the noble Chardonnay.

The Chablis region, which has been called “a wine island off the Cote-d’Or”, is now devoted to the production of a limpid perfumed, lively and high bred wine, which has become virtually a synonym for “great dry white wine”.

Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine, sums up Chablis wines in a nutshell - pure, steely whites is the way she describes them. “Wet stones is what I like to smell from young Chablis”


Technical Details

  • Appellation d’origine controlee: Chablis

  • Producing commune: Préhy

  • Category: Communal appellation

  • Colour and grape variety: White, Chardonnay.

  • Region: Located in the village of Chablis, in the very heart of the Chablis country, on the left bank of the Serein River, with a south, south-east exposure.  Monks from the Abbey of Pontigny were the first to plant Chardonnay grapes here on the slopes surrounding the River Serein realising that the microclimate in this area with its cold spring was essential for the dry, honey-scented flavour of the wine.

  • Soil: The Chablis region was once covered by a sea which laid down calcium sediments containing vast numbers of shells, the majority of which were small oysters in the shape of a comma (Ostrea virgula). At the end of the Jurassic period, the sea disappeared and the following ice age channelled out valleys in the sedimentary rocks that forms the topography that we see today.

    This geological age is called The Kimmeridge in reference to the Bay of Kimmeridge in the south of England whose sub soil has the same characteristics. This type of soil is only found in these two places in the world.

    It is this very special soil which gives Chablis wine its typical mineral quality. The Chablis soils are in fact alternate layers of very compact limestone interspersed with soft layers of kimmeridgien calcareously clay rich in fossil shells of a small oyster, Exogyra virgula, frequently found in the Chablis soil.

  • Climate: Chablis, the most northern vineyards in Burgundy, has a continental style climate with hot summers and cold winters. Along with Champagne, Chablis is the wine growing area which is most susceptible to frosts in France.

  • Pruning: Since 1920, double guyot pruning has been used in Chablis. (2 shoots with 7 buds and one or two spurs) As much old wood is conserved as possible which allows the sap to circulate more slowly and regularly thus reducing the rupture of the grape caused by excess sap.