Let’s talk Chablis! Chablis (a Chardonnay dominant wine region) is the most northern part of France’s famed Burgundy region. Although summers in this area can be hot, winters are long, harsh, and often bring frost well into the month of May — something vineyard workers often have to battle. But, because of these cool climates, the Chardonnay grapes yield more acidity and less fruit-forward characteristics.
Chablis is on the east edge of the Paris Basin, where soil dates back over180 million years ago to the Upper Jurassic period. The vineyard soil type is predominantly calcareous (chalky and clay-like), giving the wine a very distinct minerality — what is often called “goût de pierre à fusil” (tasting of gunflint).
Now a point of contention for modern Chablis winemakers is the use of oak and malolactic fermentation with these grapes. Traditionally a Chablis contains no oak. And malolactic fermentation is a fairly new innovation (only truly implemented during the 20th Century). True traditionalists maintain that the use of oak messes with the distinctive essence of terroir, while modernists believe neutral or aged oak can allow for an enhancement of those innate features. (Note: even modern Chablis will not have the “Cal-oaky” flavors us Americans are so used to: vanilla, caramel, toast, nuts, popcorn, butter, etc).
About Louis Jadot Chablis: I wanted to give you a brief overview of Chablis so you know where we’re starting with the Louis Jadot Chablis. Yes, this is a modern Chablis, catered to Americans (they are “America’s #1 French Wine). However, to their credit and in homage of their French heritage, the folks at Louis Jadot keep modernism to a minimum.
Louis Jadot Chablis is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from Chablis. The grapes are hand picked, hand sorted, gently pressed, and fermented under natural temperature conditions (ie: they don’t try to keep them cool or warm them up — what is, is). The winemakers are hands on, in that they are always tasting and testing: partial or no malolactic fermentation is used depending on the vintage (if a season was particularly frost-filled, they may use minimal malolactic fermentation to help with the excessive acidity). The wine is aged in a neutral French oak. According to them, “The goal is always to retain the wine’s complexity and structure.”
Flavor Profile: Let’s start with how almost perfectly clear this wine is visually — like a fragile piece of glass that could shatter at the smallest sound. The aromas are just as delicate. You have to really engage your sense of smell to pick up on the subtle nuances; I encourage you to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Breathe deeply and be transported to a fresh field of green grass with a scattering of herbal flowers — chamomile, jasmine, dandelion. And if you breathe again, further in the distance you’ll find a small apple tree just about to fruit.
The taste is just as refreshing as you’d guess based on sight and smell. You’re immediately hit with a zest of acidity, calling forth the image of a tart green apple. As that fades, you’ll get a dose of those herbal elements — grass, flowers. But those quickly subside and the shining star — the minerality — takes center stage. It’s the taste of a stone wetted by cool, spring water. Not granite, not gravel, something all together more organic…
Take that scene from earlier, walking in that field of green grass, the blades reaching as high as your knees, the fragrance of the little flowers fly into your senses with every soft, subtle breeze. In the distance is that apple tree, not quite fully grown. As you walk towards it, you come across a creek. Very small, just enough water flowing through it to cover each stone and pebble; just enough water for you to cup your hands, scoop, and sip.
The finish is long, lingering, tingling on the tongue, leaving tastebuds alerted and your breath filled with that fragrant minerality.
Food Pairing: I believe that a good Chablis should be able to take you from starters to dessert. So I performed an experiment and created a dish for each course.
STARTER: Pear, Prosciutto and Gruyère Flatbread — The pear brings forward the fruitier flavors in the wine, while the gruyere highlights the more earthy components; conversely, the refreshing minerality of the wine cuts through the fat and salt of the prosciutto.
MAIN: Chicken Roulade with Butternut Squash Puree — The chicken, goats cheese and arugula, again, bring forward the more earthy elements in the wine, while the butternut squash adds a softness to the texture; I garnished this with fresh green onion that had marinated in a white wine, honey vinaigrette which perfectly paralleled the acidity in the wine while simultaneously added a sweet component to the overall dish.
DESSERT: Vanilla Yogurt Parfait with Pumpkin Seed Praline — This is not a sweet wine, so the acidity, the freshness, did well to cut through all the sweetness found in both the parfait and the praline; I actually added a good dose of salt to the praline, which accompanied the minerality of the wine quite nicely; meanwhile the pumpkin seeds, again, paid homage to the very organic nature of this wine’s taste and textures.
More Info: I’m by no means an expert on French wines, so I find that Louis Jadot’s offerings are a friendly introduction. They perfectly meld the old and new world of wine in a way that’s enjoyable for novice and knowledgeable palates alike. If you haven’t read my previous Louis Jadot reviews, please do so.
I received this bottle from Louis Jadot for review, but I have seen it in a few local shops like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. For more information about Louis Jadot, their available wines, and to find a store near you, please do visit the Love Jadot website.
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