There are a number of important distinctions within this world-famous white wine region, each with internationally recognizable bottles of what is considered to be some of the best examples of Chardonnay in the entire world.
Understanding the differences between each designation and learning the most famous wines from each is a fantastic way to start exploring this important French wine region.
In this article, we will take a closer look at the wines of Chablis, France, its history, as well as recommend some great wines for you to explore.
A Guide to the Top Wines of Chablis, France
Chablis Wine Style
The typical style of wine produced in Chablis is a dry white wine that is made using 100 percent unoaked Chardonnay. When compared with the “buttery” and creamy oaked Chardonnays of California, Chablis is on the completely opposite side of the spectrum.
Chardonnay from Chablis is light and fresh and carries distinct floral tasting notes that can be slightly earthy and carry significant notes of minerality. Many people describe the tasting sensations brought on by the wines of Chablis as “flinty” due to this minerality.
Winemakers from the region of Chablis use a “minimal intervention” approach when it comes to producing wine. By intervening with the natural flavors of the wine grape as little as possible, the wine grape itself is allowed to shine in the glass.
The winegrowing conditions in this region are thought to be some of the best in the entire world when it comes to producing high-quality Chardonnay grapes. The soil and climate of this northern Burgundy region are both perfectly suited for fantastic Chardonnay production.
Chablis Grand Crus
Grand Cru is the highest designation that is only given to the finest wine producers in all of France. Many wine enthusiasts consider wines from these world-famous Grand Cru to be the “holy grail” of all wines, and they often carry some of the highest price tags in all of Europe.
The Blanchot Grand Cru is located further south than any other in Chabis, and produces a unique representation of wine that is considerably lighter in body compared to the other Grand Crus. These wines also carry considerably higher amounts of minerality on the palate as well.
Domaine Francois Raveneau Blanchot is by far the most famous and easily recognizable bottle of wine from the Grand Cru Blanchot designation. This highly sought-after label carries a significant price tag, as it often sells for over $1000 per bottle.
The wines produced in the Bougros Grand Cru are well known to be easy drinking, and less “serious” when compared to the majority of the other Grand Cru designations of Chablis. These affordable wines are best enjoyed when young and represent one of the best values in wine.
William Fevre Bougros Cote Bouguerots is the most famous bottle of wine that is being produced in the Bougros Grand Cru designation today.
At just under $100 per bottle, it offers a fantastic opportunity to taste the best of what the region has to offer without breaking the bank.
The Grenouilles Grand Cru is the smallest of any Grand Cru in all of Chablis. The wines produced there vary considerably depending on production style and age, but for the most part, the tasting profiles can be described as a mixture of citrus and honey.
La Chablisienne Château Grenouilles is more famous than any other label in the Grenouilles Grand Cru designation. This bottle of wine has won multiple awards, including both gold and silver medals at the International Wine Challenge.
La Moutonne is a lesser-known Grand Cru within Chablis and is considered by many sommeliers and wine critics to represent one of the best-kept secrets in all of Burgundy. The soils here are limestone based, and the minerality shines through in the wine grapes.
While there are few wines from this Grand Cru that have “broken through” to the international wine market in a major way, Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit La Moutonne Monopole has become world-renowned and commands a price of over $120 per bottle.
Les Clos is the most famous sub-region in all of Chablis, and is one of the most recognizable Grand Cru in all of Burgundy. This is the first Grand Cru many wine lovers think of when discussing Chablis, and there are many labels from Les Clos that are widely distributed.
Domaine Francois Raveneau Les Clos is the most established and highly regarded label from within the Les Clos Grand Cru, and a single bottle can sell for around three thousand dollars at auction depending on the vintage.
It is thought of by many as the world’s best Chardonnay.
The Preuses Grand Cru overlooks the city of Chablis and is located on a hill just above the city. The wines that are produced here are decidedly lighter representations of the Chardonnay grape when compared with the rest of Chablis, with noticeably lower levels of minerality.
The most famous bottle of wine from this hillside Grand Cru is Rene et Vincent Dauvissat-Camus Les Preuses, which is a favorite among many dry wine enthusiasts that prefer subtle layers and complexity of flavor.
The vineyards that make up the Valmur Grand Cru occupy a moderately sized valley that rests on the steep slope of the area’s elevated hills. The wines produced here are by far the boldest and strongest representations of Chablis Chardonnay and take very well to cellar aging.
Domaine Francois Raveneau Valmur is the most iconic and sought-after label from this prestigious Grand Cru, and is considered by many wine critics to be one of the best bottles of high-quality and powerful Chardonnay in all of France.
The Vaudesir Grand Cru is home to a unique microclimate that is a result of the U-shaped valley where it lies. The wines produced here are full of flavor due to the ripeness levels of the grapes, and the soils of the Vaudesir Grand Cru impart subtle notes of minerality.
Domaine Lavantureux Vaudesir is a very highly rated bottle of Vaudesir Grand Cru that has an established history and is increasing in popularity every year. The 2019 vintage received a 96-point score from the highly esteemed publication Wine Enthusiastdgdf.
Chablis Premier Crus
Chablis is home to 40 separate vineyard sites that have been awarded the designation of Premier Cru. The quality levels of these vineyards are generally considered to be lower compared to the Grand Cru sites, while higher in quality than the Chablis AOP.
Many of the bottles of wine that are produced under the Chablis Premier Cru designation are considered by some wine enthusiasts to be as good as some more expensive bottles from the Grand Cru designations. This comes down to personal preference, as well as the style of wine.
Bottles of wine that are labeled with the Premier Cru designation are generally more affordable when compared to Grand Cru bottles. Many savvy wine enthusiasts study the Premier Cru regions of Chablis carefully to find some of the best values in the world wine.
Rene et Vincent Dauvissat-Camus La Forest is one of the most popular and highly regarded bottles of Premier Cru wine produced anywhere in Chablis. It has received high marks from the highly esteemed wine critic Jancis Robinson, who is one of the most trusted names in wine.
The Chablis AOP designation is used to classify the vineyards of Chablis that are not considered to be high enough in quality to be awarded Premier Cru or Grand Cru designations but are still located within the basic geographical area of Chablis.
This can be one of the best opportunities for high-quality French Chardonnay that does not break the bank for shoppers who know what to look for. Some of the best wines that are labeled as “Chablis AOP” are grown just minutes from Premier and Grand Crus.
Louis Moreau Chablis Burgundy is a great example of a solid and affordable bottle of wine that falls under the Chablis AOP designation. It is a great bottle for wine enthusiasts who are on a budget and carries all the distinct tasting notes one would expect from this French region.
Petit Chablis AOP
The Petit Chablis AOP covers about 1700 acres worth of vineyards within the region of Chablis that are not considered to be of high enough quality to be labeled Chablis AOP, Premier Cru, or Grand Cru.
While the wine grapes and many of the climate and environmental factors are very similar to those in the Chablis AOP designation, the primary difference in Petit Chablis is the soil composition. These soils are considered Portlandian, instead of the sought-after Kimmeridgian.
Domaine Francois Raveneau Petit Chablis holds the title of both the most famous and most expensive bottle of Petit Chablis wine. It is made by one of the most trusted producers in all of Burgundy, and usually costs just under $200 per bottle.
Wines of Chablis – Conclusion
The French region of Chablis is considered by many wine experts to be home to some of the best bottles of Chardonnay in the entire world.
The pure and clean unoaked style of Chardonnay made in this Burgundian French wine region is both complex and refined with many layers of flavor. Understanding the basic wine classifications throughout the Chablis area is the best way to develop a better understanding of the region, and there are many famous bottles of wine in each designation.
Also, make sure you check out our list of wine regions, to help deepen your knowledge of wine.