Before having the pleasure of tasting a Chablis wine, there is a long and tedious work in the vineyards and cellars…
Working the vineyard
Pruning the vine to encourage it to come back to life in the spring
From a botanical point of view, we are dealing with a vine in the true sense of the word. If it is not pruned, it will grow without stopping, like a creeper. Pruning thus helps the vine to grow again with renewed vigor in the springtime.
Traditionally, pruning should be finished by the beginning of March. But in reality, the date by which the task is complete varies from estate to estate and the job can be carried out throughout winter. Some winegrowers do pre-pruning. This helps clear out the trunk of the vine by removing any excess canes to facilitate pruning.
Different winegrowing regions have different pruning styles. The most common shape in the Bourgogne winegrowing region is Guyot pruning, (either simple or double).
There are other more specific shapes that are used. In Chablis, “Chablisienne” pruning is popular, and farther south you might find “l’arcure mâconnaise.” If you are ever strolling through the vines, get up close and try to recognize each pruning technique. With a little practice, you’ll see it’s not so hard.
This task may seem simple but it requires a great deal of practice and an expert eye. The person pruning must select those canes and buds to keep, and which will bear the harvest. And the essential tool for pruning is, of course, the secateurs.
The pruned shoots stay attached to the wires supporting the wines and people known as tacherons are employed to remove them. The action is called “tirer le bois” and the clippings are then gathered up and burned in special burners, which are often homemade. Pruning is carried out in the winter so these little fires help heat up the workers. That is why you will often see plumes of smoke rising here and there in the vineyards in winter.
Working and enriching the earth to ensure good vine development
To make the grapes grow, the vine draws its resources from the soil. It is therefore necessary to maintain the soil and ensure it is balanced and healthy.
Maintaining the soil involves working it, to break it down and aerate it. There are two main ways to work the soil:
• Earthing up: This task protects the vines from winter frost. It must be carried out before the first frost.
• Tilling: When planting new vines, the soil must be ripped or tilled to a depth of 40-50cm on average in the Bourgogne winegrowing region, to break it down and remove any stones. The winemaker performs this task with a special plow called a “défonceuse”. These tasks have to be carried out in the fall before the cold sets in.
To top up the nutrients in the soil, which has nourished the vines throughout the growth cycle, the necessary elements must be added. These include nitrogen for the vegetation, phosphate for fruit development and a healthy plant, and potash which helps develop the sugar in the juice as well as resistance to disease and frost.
The soil is one of the key components of the terroir. It must be preserved to guarantee the sustainability and quality of the wines of Bourgogne.
Taking care of the soil
In early spring, the first efforts involve working with the soil.
• Débuttage: The soil that was earthed up to protect the vines during winter is now removed from around the plants. This helps aerate and even out the soil.
• Bouéchage: This local dialect word describes the action of chipping away at the vine root with a mattock to remove excessive root growth.
• Griffage: This task involves scratching the surface of the land around the vines with pronged tool to remove weeds, aerate the soil and help the nutritious elements penetrate back into the soil.
• Planting and replanting: New vines are planted out during this period, where necessary.
Weeding or mowing: The presence of grass between the rows is desired in some plots to help suppress vine growth. In these plots, the grass needs to be mowed regularly. Where grass is not required, these plots need to be weeded regularly. In the Bourgogne winegrowing region, this task is increasingly done using mechanical rather than chemical means.
Monitoring the growth of the vines until harvest time
When the fine weather returns, the winegrower has several tasks that help encourage vigor in the vines and the development of high-quality grapes.
• Tying up, training and tucking in the vines : In the Bourgogne winegrowing region, the vines are supported by metal wires stretched between posts to ensure the grapes get the best exposure to the sun (trellising).
o Tying up: The winegrower attaches the canes to the lowest wires. This helps channel plant growth and encourage them to develop fruit.
o Training: As the canes grow, they are guided upwards and attached to the wires. This takes place throughout the summer months.
o Tucking in: Because vines are creepers, they tend to grow in all directions. To encourage them to grow in rows, the canes are pushed between the second row of double wires.
• Éjetonnage: This dialect word has plenty of local variations (such as évasivage). The equivalent in French is ébourgeonnage or debudding. The task is carried out by hand and involves removing the “gourmands” or the young elbow shoots that give no fruit and can divert the vine from focusing its attention on developing fruit-bearing canes and grapes.
• Protecting the vines: The vines must be protected against certain diseases such as downy mildew, powdery mildew and botrytis.
• Trimming: This task involves removing the tips of the canes to encourage fruit development. Another advantage is that this facilitates movement between the rows.
• Vendanges vertes: Just before véraison (when the grapes take on color), the vendange vert or green harvest takes place. The winegrowers may remove the excess bunches from vines, but this is not systematic. The remaining bunches can then reach optimum maturity.
• De-leafing: Depending on the weather experienced during the year, the winegrower may decide to remove some of the leaves while the grapes ripen. Only leaves facing the rising sun in the east are removed. This technique helps the grapes to ripen and offers improved aeration. Moreover, it makes the task of manual harvesting much easier.
Ready for the harvest
In September or October, the final phase of a whole year of hard work finally arrives. It’s time for the harvest in the Bourgogne winegrowing region.
The grapes are picked and returned to the winery for vinification. The aromatic characteristics of Bourgogne wines reflect the conditions experienced by the vines throughout the annual growth cycle.
A WHITE WINE WITH AROMAS OF FLOWERS, CITRUS FRUIT ON A MINERAL BOTTOM
This village appellation can be produced on all municipalities of Chablis.
- CHABLIS WINE CHARACTERISTICS
Under its light and shiny golden robe, rye straw, sometimes enhanced by green hues, this dry white wine cultivates aromas of white flowers (hawthorn, acacia) mixed with notes of citrus (lemon, grapefruit) on a mineral background (flint , rifle). There are sometimes peaches, white-fleshed fruits. The palate is lively and light, balanced in acidity. This enthusiastic attack continues with a pleasant roundness. Its iodized breath belongs to the characters of the country. Its fat accords with its freshness to offer the palate a lingering sensation. It is drunk young but waiting two years is ideal.
On either side of the Serein valley, the controlled designation of origin Petit Chablis, forms one of the crowns of the Chablis, on soils dating from the Landian harbor, a little more recent than the other appellations of the vineyard. Chardonnay all along the line, the Petit Chablis, in reality, is not small.
- PETIT CHABLIS IN A FEW NUMBERS
Key figures in 2016:
The Petit Chablis appellation accounts for 18% of the production of Chablis wines.
Area in production: 1,055 ha (1 hectare (ha) = 10,000 m²)
Harvested volume: 38 307 hl (1 hectolitre (hl) = 100 liters = 133 bottles)
Average annual harvest between 2012 and 2016: 47 340 hl
ONE REAL WINE FROM CHABLIS
The Chablis village appellation is produced in the communes of Beines, Béru, Chablis, Fyé, Milly, Poinchy, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne, Chemilly-sur-Serein, Chichée, Collan, Courgis, Fleys, Fontenay-Près-Chablis, Lignorelles, Ligny-le-Chatel, Maligny, Poilly-sur-Serein, Prey, Villy and Viviers.
- CHABLIS WINE CHARACTERISTICS
Under its fairly light, pale gold or green gold color, this white wine expresses a very fresh, lively and mineral nose; we find flint, green apple, lemon; the undergrowth and the mushroom (mousseron). Notes of linden, mint and acacia are common, as are aromas of licorice and cut hay. The age makes it a little more golden and spicier. On the palate, its aromas keep for a long time their freshness, their purity. Dry and perfectly fine, Chablis has a unique and easily identifiable personality.
The name “Chablis” is usurped on the five continents by wines that have no rights. Be careful : there is only one true Chablis and it comes from Burgundy!
Located near Auxerre in the department of Yonne, the vineyards of Chablis along a small river with the predestined name: the Serein. The Cistercian monks of the Pontigny abbey favored the development of the vine here from the 12th century.
- TERROIRS OF CHABLIS
No French vineyard has so far affirmed its faith in geology. The major bedrock comes from the Jurassic, more precisely Kimmeridgian (some 150 million years ago) and so we find in the rock deposits of tiny oysters that remind us of the warm and shallow sea that covered then this territory. These comma-shaped oysters are called Exogyra virgula.
- CHABLIS IN FEW NUMBERS
Registered designation of origin instituted in 1938.
2016 key figures: The Chablis appellation accounts for 64% of the production of Chablis wines.
Area in production: 3,595 ha (1 hectare (ha) = 10,000 m²)
Harvested volume: 134,362 hl (1 hectolitre (hl) = 100 liters = 133 bottles)
Annual average harvest between 2012 and 2016: 170,581 hl
Chablis Premier Cru
STRUCTURED AND LONG WHITE WINE IN MOUTH
This village appellation is produced in the municipalities of Beines, Chablis, La Chapelle-Vaupelteigne,
Chichée, Courgis, Fleys, Fontenay-Near-Chablis, Fyé, Maligny, Milly and Poinchy. Today
40 Climats can be combined on the label at Chablis Premier Cru, including 17 main climates or flag bearers.
- CHABLIS PREMIER CRU WINE CHARACTERISTICS
The different Climates bring their typicity, their character, according to the soil and the exposure; they are structured and long in the mouth. From the most mineral, closed in its youth, to the most floral, which develops aromas of finesse and subtlety, the Climates of Chablis Premier Cru enchant the palate.
Under a pale gold dress, the nose does not immediately express its full potential. He needs a little airing; it is a wine that you can keep 5 to 10 years sometimes.
- TERROIRS OF CHABLIS PREMIER CRU
As for Chablis, the major foundation comes from the Jurassic, specifically Kimmeridgian (some 150 million years ago). One particularity concerns Chablis Premier Cru: the Climates are divided between the right bank and the left bank of the river Serein tributary of the Yonne which crosses the vineyard from south to north.
- CHABLIS PREMIER CRU IN FEW NUMBERS
Registered designation of origin instituted in 1938.
2016 fews figures:
The Chablis Premier Cru appellation represents 16% of the production of Chablis wines.
Area in production: 782 ha (1 hectare (ha) = 10,000 m²)
Harvested volume: 32 931 hl (1 hectolitre (hl) = 100 liters = 133 bottles)
Average annual harvest between 2012 and 2016: 38,560 hl
Chablis Grand Cru
A WHITE WINE TO KEEP WELL
The Chablis Grand Cru appellation has 7 Climates: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Frogs, Preuses, Valmur, Vaudésir.
It is produced mainly on the village of Chablis but also on Fyé and Poinchy.
- CHABLIS GRAND CRU WINE CHARACTERISTICS
Pure gold-green, its dress move towards the light yellow with age. Because this wine is to keep well (10 to 15 years sometimes more). On the nose, the mineral aromas (flint, gunflint) are intense. However they offer their place to linden, dried fruit, honey discreet, almond. The mousseron brings a touch of typicity. On the palate, the balance is perfect between freshness and fat: all the charm of an inimitable and authentic wine. The most beautiful jewel in the crown of Chablis, rich in nuances expressed through its Climates.
The Chablis Grand Cru is located in the town of Chablis and on the right bank of the Serein, a small river that crosses the landscape, northeast of the city, between 100 and 250 meters above sea level. Enjoying excellent sun exposure, the Chablis Grand Cru appellation is unique. It is divided into 7 Climates, inscribed on the label, with a strong personality, where the Chardonnay makes wonderful variations: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Frogs, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésir.
The terroirs formed in the upper Jurassic, 150 million years ago, are composed of limestones, marls to Exogyra virgula and tiny fossil oysters. Chablis Grand Cru is one of the few French AOCs to refer to geology (including the Kimmeridgian stage).
- CHABLIS GRAND CRU IN FEW NUMBERS
Registered designation of origin instituted in 1938.
2016 keys figures:
The Chablis Grand Cru appellation represents 2% of the production of Chablis wines.
Area in production: 100 ha (1 hectare (ha) = 10 000 m²)
Harvested volume: 3,658 hl (1 hectolitre (hl) = 100 liters = 133 bottles)
Annual average harvest between 2012 and 2016: 4 256 hl
How to serve a Chablis wine?
THE CORRECT TEMPERATURE
To serve a wine correctly, it must be at the right temperature. For a Petit Chablis, the ideal temperature is around 8°C to serve as an aperitif and 9-10°C with food. Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru should be served at 10-11°C, and Chablis Grand Cru at 12-14°C.
A NEATLY-TRIMMED CAP
The foil cap should be cut away below the top of the bottle so that the wine does not come into contact with it during service. It is cut with a knife, or you can use a foil cap trimmer specially designed to do the job neatly. The neck of the bottle should then be wiped with a damp cloth.
GENTLY REOVE THE CORK
Removing a cork from the neck of a bottle should be done calmly and slowly. Push the tip of the corkscrew into the center of the cork and turn whilst pushing down gently. When the spiral is screwed right into the cork, gently pull the corkscrew a little and then screw a little more into the cork. Now remove the cork completely, pulling slowly so as not to break it. Clean the neck of the bottle once more. You may taste the wine before serving it to your guests.
Most Chablis wines can be served directly from the bottle. Some, when enjoyed young, profit from being decanted. Do this a half-hour before you wish to serve the wine to give its aromas a chance to develop. It is also possible to decant a wine to make the table look more elegant.
THE RIGHT GLASSES
It’s a simple experiment to do: take two very different shaped glasses and use them to taste the same wine. You’ll be surprised by the result. The glass plays a key role in the expression of a wine. It must have a foot so the wine is not warmed by the hand. It must widen at the base and narrow near the top like a tulip, in order to concentrate the aromas in the upper part of the glass. It is particularly important not to fill it up too much. The wine needs room to breathe and to move around in order to be fully enjoyed.
NO DRIPS, NO STAINS…
To avoid the formation of drips during service, there are some useful accessories available. Some are made from felt, others from metal, and they are placed over the neck of the bottle. Others are in the shape of flexible disks that can be rolled up and inserted inside the bottle neck to make the perfect spout.
Visit of the Obédiencerie, former monastery from Saint-Martin monks and historic house of the domain Laroche. This visit offers a real immersion in the Chablis history and discovery of the estate winemaking know-how. You will see the 19th and 20th centuries cellar and 13th century press. At the end of the visit you will taste the estate’s wines.
Le château de Béru
Owned by the counts of Béru since the 17th century, the beautiful house dominates the Chablis vineyards. At the heart of this estate is the “Clos de Béru” unique terroir closed by historic walls erected in the 13th century.
Ephemeral bistro in July and August (gourmet plates and wine tasting).
Frédéric and Céline are committed to ensure their vineyards are sustainable and to protect their terroirs for future generations. To share these values with you, the Gueguen estate welcomes you to its vaulted cellar for a tutored tasting of its wines. The estate offers you the opportunity to stay in their cottage in the middle of the vineyards.
William Fèvre domain
Go and discover one of the biggest vineyard owners in Chablis. In its tasting area, the William Fèvre estate takes you on a sensory journey to discover the great Chablis wines: Let them lead the way and give you lots of top tips. Also discover their wine weekends for a truly memorable experience!
Alain Geoffroy domain
Come and visit an authentic and quirky place at the heart of Chablis. At the estate, you can discover the incredible Vineyard and Corkscrew Museum (that has a unique collection of corkscrews and old tools) and enjoy its range of Chablis wines. Fresh and fruity wines with lovely mineral tones.
The renowned, must-have La Chablisienne represents a quarter of the Chablis vineyard. In its new cellar, discover the depths of the PDO, particularly the Chablis Grand Cru Chateau Grenouille, the mythical Chablis wine. This professional tasting institution means you can indulge in professional tasting events all year round with food, wine and exhibitions.
A little further…
Cellars of Bailly-Lapierre
A quirky place in Yonne, which is nestled in the heart of some very old quarries, the Bailly-Lapierre cellars produce the famous Crémant de Bourgogne. Hour-long guided tours, with tasting included, are available. You can keep your flute as a souvenir. From May to September, the Bailly-Lapierre cellars also organise tours of the vineyard.
Various services are proposed to you to discover the vineyard of Maria Cuny in Vézelay (visit of the cellars associated with a gourmet tasting of local products local, flight in “autogire” above the vineyard of Vézelay…).
Clos du Roi domain
This area of the vineyard auxerrois offers you to discover its wines (red, white, rosé and Crémant) during a tasting or a visit of the estate. Here you can also choose to taste food and wine together with cold cuts, local cheeses and other artisanal products.
Aboard a seven-seater air-conditioned mini-bus, Franck Chrétien, a local guide, takes you to the vineyards and cellars and explains with passion all the special features of the Chablis vineyards, the viticultural methods and the winemaking bases. Other offers can be found on its website.
In the Heart of Wine
Do you want to learn the basics or perfect the art of tasting? Understand the different stages of winemaking or discover the vineyards and cellars of Burgundy? At the heart of the wine organizes (among others) for you tasting courses in the heart of vineyards and circuits discovery in 2CV.
Visits of vineyard and cellars.
The vine, the wine, the desire
E-Bike winetours offers you a wide range of tours in and around Chablis, where you can discover the landscape and enjoy a variety of wines, at your own pace! You will have a GPS where various points of interest have been pre-programmed. In the practical road book, you will find additional information on these points of interest that are divided into several categories: history, route, bike, wine and other trivia.
The rotating Saint-Vincent (1st week-end of February)
Every year a Chablis vineyard village honours the patron saint of the wine-makers by decorating the streets and offering an exceptional wine to the thousands of visitors that have come to see this unmissable event. There is a parade, which is like an inauguration at the heart of the wine-making brotherhood of the Chablis pillars and lots of events are offered to the public.
Please note: In 2020 it will take place in Béru and in 2021 it will be in Fleys. You will find more information about the rotating Saint Vincent at Chablis’ tourist information centre.
Wines and flowers market (The 1st Saturday of May)
A friendly place where you can meet wine-makers, taste their wines and do your shopping. There is also a flower market to go with the wine market.
Gourmand hike (the last Sunday in April)
Hiking a dozen kilometres with several gourmand stop-offs that have been put together by local artisans. Every year a “finage” (area of land) of the Chablis vineyard is showcased.
Chablis Wines Festival (4th week-end of October)
Major event of the year where many visitors discover the four PDOs of the Chablis vineyard. You will get the chance to meet wine-makers and taste their wines. Lots of events are offered throughout this festive weekend.