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The forgotten white!

June 17, 2010

We’re going to play a word association game. For those of you who didn’t take a creative writing course in high school or weren’t one of my former students, the game goes a little something like this: I say a word and you say the FIRST thing that comes to your mind. (Now, ______, please be school appropriate.)

Q.  Andover Liquors

A. totally awesome place for the drink

Q. France

A. land of wine

Q. Chablis

A. California jug stuff

…. guess again. But it’s totally true! So many people when they hear the word “Chablis” think of that jug wine from the middle of warm, sunny Cali. If you were under the impression you were consuming genuine, quality Chablis at a real bargain from California, I’m about to burst your bubble. Without necessarily throwing any one sunshine state winery under the bus, many producers used to (AND SOME STILL DO) sell their jug wine under the name Chablis based upon where this wine came from originally: France. Confusion arose when people started thinking that Chablis was different from Chardonnay and began specifically asking for Chardonnay instead of Chablis!

I was 24 years old when I first met Chablis over lunch at a country club in Severna Park, MD with my Nana. I was working at a wine bar but for some reason I’d never encountered Chablis. I don’t even remember what I eventually ordered, but I do remember I asked Nana to describe Chablis. She responded, “It’s almost like Chardonnay.”

I hope you’re sitting down for this next piece of info: Chablis is a region and it is ONLY allowed to produce one white wine: Chardonnay. France literally has wine laws requiring 100% of white wine vineyards produce Chardonnay exclusively. Fact: True Chablis is Chardonnay. The two are synonymous.

What’s so tricky is that in Europe, people refer to their wines by place-name rather than grape name. As a consumer, it’s hard to gamble with your hard-earned $40 on a bottle of wine if you have no clue what it might be lurking about inside that bottle! There are a couple other negative strongholds surrounding Chablis. One involves that generational crummy association with crappy jug wine and the lack of sophistication that goes hand’n’hand with ole jug-o-wine. To the surprise of all, Chablis produces some of the most under-estimated Chardonnays in the entire world. There are so many reasons to appreciate this acidic, minerally citrus bomb wine, but a lot of these reasons revolve around terrior (a fancy name for every component of the wine growing process working harmoniously), its location to Burgundy and of course, crazy soil and fossil deposits.

Recently, a bunch of winos got together to figure out how to get the US market to drink Chablis. Hands down, it’s gonna take a gamble on your part. Since we all pretty much grew up on soda, grease foots and capri suns after soccer games; the dry, green apple, white mineral taste of Chablis (very often unoaked) can be a little confusing and unfamiliar to the US palate. This wine just LOVES goat cheese, anything that carries its water-logged home on its back as well as light fish dishes. So, healthy food :/

Someone at the meeting said it may take several generations for consumers to re-accept Chablis…

Booo! Drink more wine!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew Mitchell permalink
    June 18, 2010 1:16 pm

    “I rarely drink wine. But when I do…I choose Chablis”

  2. June 22, 2010 11:01 pm

    Hey, Hey – Anything but Chardonnay, except if it is Chablis. I loved seeing all of you guys there. What a great group!

    • June 23, 2010 2:16 pm

      It was great to see you too!! Hopefully we’ll start bumping into each other more often 🙂

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