Who are we ?
Since 1923 at Chablis in Burgundy, the meticulous care of the vine-growers working together under the banner of La Chablisienne has given birth to wines whose magnificence is amplified by the passage of time. These wines, coming from a mosaic of "climats", or vineyard plots, provide a pallet of emotions marked with a truly mineral touch.
Chablis, half way between Paris and Beaune, forms the real gateway to Burgundy ’s treasure-house of wines. The vineyards, lying on both sides of the River Serein, cover 6,800 hectares (some 17,000 acres) in 20 villages. Of the 4,700 hectares in production, La Chablisienne alone represents nearly 25% and produces every one of the Chablis appellations.
The production of the whole vineyard reaches 250 000 hectolitres per annum. Chablis is therefore thefirst producer of white wine in Burgundy. The wines are made from a single grape variety, the Chardonnay which finds in the soil of Chablis the matter for its superb fineness.
Our winery groups nearly 300 winegrowers to produce the great white wines of Chablis. These wines reflect the utmost care our winegrowers devote to the cultivation of their vineyards and the commitment our winemakers bring to revealing the heart and soul of the wines. It is this subtle harmony between the grower in the vineyards, the technical advisor and the winemaker which bestows on our wines their much sought-after distinction.
Could someone have dropped some pebbles in the wine ? Over the last few years the expression “minerality” has worked its way into the vocabulary of sommeliers and wine-lovers. And with this disclosure we have seen a reappearance of aromas seeming to come straight out of the rock, accompanied by a forgotten taste of terroir. Indeed, following their “liberation” these characteristics are now finding their way into wine cellars and our consciousness. So what is this “minerality” ? Hidden behind this neologism with cloudy contours we find a combination of sensations : olfactive, gustative and tactile. Sensations that can be discovered during a tasting of Chablis ; the archetype of “mineral” wines.
This affair is the cause of much commotion in the small world of œnologists and wine-lovers. Since the 1970’s, wine tasters from around the world have thought that agreement was reached regarding a common language : to each his own perception, but a shared vocabulary for all. Resulting in precise, yet universal terms to describe an aroma or a bouquet. Œnology even went so far as to “collar” certain difficult-to-tag sensations using chemical formulas with polyphenols, aldehydes or esters.
And then, without anyone really knowing when or how, a mysterious word burst into the nicely organised lexicon, a hazy sort of term without boundaries that no-one, until now, has been able to define : minerality.
Tense and vigorous
The word “minerality” does not appear in any of the ancient tomes about wine. So what meaning do we attribute to this term that does not exist ? And where should look in order to unearth this minerality ? A few tasters believe to have caught a hint of it in some red wines.They are still looking… This is because the clues are far more numerous in white wines. The best sommeliers, working as sleuths, have found traces of it by following the Loire upstream then branching off towards Burgundy and Alsace. They found its tracks in Muscadet, Sancerre, Chablis and Riesling. But the quarry does not allow itself to be caught that easily. It requires a meticulous examination to identify the telltale aromas : flint, gunflint, chalk, pencil graphite, steeliness…
Some experts can recognize notes of petroleum ; others find traces of seashells and iodine. And yet there is that odd sensation : something similar to holding a pebble in your mouth.
Damien Leclerc, managing director of la Chablisienne and our guide in this quest for minerality, takes us deeper into the descriptive metaphors. His words to describe this notion are “those first big raindrops that fall and dry just before a storm on a hot, dry day” beautifully expressing the concept of minerality. There is a sudden refreshing sensation that invades the atmosphere, while at the same time there is tension in the air. A sort of energy, like before an earth tremor.
“Minerality also exudes a certain form of purity, a crystalline expression of the wine” he concludes.
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Our vineyards in 3D to really understand our appellations, our origins
Though there is only one single grape variety grown at Chablis –Chardonnay- the Chablis vineyard area constitutes a complex terroir. Stretching over some 20 villages, there are valleys with wide variations in hillside slopes and exposure, two main types of soil (Portlandian and Kimmeridgian)... At Chablis, the concept of origin takes on real meaning. Since the earliest times of growing vines and making wine here, the people have got to know their surroundings in minute detail, pinpointing the microclimates that produce those « nuggets of gold » : their great and unique wines. This reality needs explaining in simple terms, but without overlooking the complexities. La Chablisienne winery has done just that, to help winelovers the world over to really understand the array of mineral emotion that she has on offer...
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