Chablis, the northernmost part of Burgundy, is known for its characterful, pure wines. It is closer to the Champagne vineyards. Here is only one grape that matters, and that is Chardonnay. They derive their character from a calcareous subsoil – limestone from oyster fossils from the Jurassic period – and the use of Chardonnay grapes, which are immensely popular worldwide today.
The Chardonnay has to compete with the elements in these northern regions. The cold often takes its toll in the spring. Here, many crops have been decimated by night frosts. The farmers have taken all kinds of measures, from stoves in the vineyards to windmills, to move the cold air, but if it starts to freeze when the buds have already sprouted, it doesn't help.
The long summer ripening of the grapes due to the relatively cool climate gives the wines an intense and powerful aroma, with notes of white blossoms and citrus fruit in the scent. The taste is lively and fresh – the French call it 'nervous' with an exciting bitter at the end. It is a well-known statement that grapes produce the best wines if they are grown in a place where this is only just possible. Chablis, with its marginal climate, provides convincing evidence for the truth of this statement with its wines.