There weren't really any vineyards around the village of Môlay, where we were staying. Luckily, the wine town of Chablis (pop. 2,300) was just a dozen miles north. One of the reasons we wanted to go to this part of Burgundy was Chablis and its wines.
I've said this before but I'll say it again. The name Chablis for white wines was grossly misused in California 40 or 50 years ago. Back then, California red wines were pretty much all called Burgundy wine, and California white wines carried the name Chablis, no matter what grapes they were made with or how poor the quality compared to real Chablis. Fortunately, California has cleaned up its act now.
A vineyard on the west side of Chablis
The vineyards of Chablis are planted in Chardonnay. Chardonnay too has earned a bad reputation with many because so much of the Chardonnay wine made in California was not very good. It was over-oaked and made in a stlye called "buttery" — sweet and kind of oily. Real Chablis — and remember, Chablis is a town, not a grape — is very dry and crisp. It's not aged in oak, as far as I know.
Chablis wines for sale at the Chablisienne cooperative
I'm a big fan of Burgundy white wines. That means I'm a fan of Chardonnay made the way it's made in northern France. My favorite Champagnes are the ones called Blanc de Blancs, which means they are sparkling wines made from a single grape variety: Chardonnay. Other Champagne wines are made from a combination or assemblage of juices from red and white wine grapes (including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay).
Flowers and a black cat at the Domaine Gérard Tremblay winery
Last spring, Walt had attended a wine event in a village (Angé) just down the road from Saint-Aignan, toward Montrichard. It was an open house held annually by a winery over there. He was surprised to find wines from other regions, including Burgundy, offered for tasting and sale at a local event. He knows I like Chardonnay, and he tasted a Chablis from the Domaine Gérard Tremblay that day. He ended up buying six bottles. This year, he wanted to go see the winery in Chablis where that particular wine is made.
Chablis grapes carved in stone
So that's what we did. We went there and tasted wines that first morning, thinking we'd better do it right away lest it get lost in the shuffle of the very busy days we had ahead of us. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day. We didn't plan to buy and take home a lot of wine, but just a few bottles, including some from Gérard Tremblay's winery. It was fun to go see the winery and do a tasting.
The very modern facility of the Chablis wine cooperative
We also stopped in at the Chablis wine cooperative, a large-scale operation called La Chablisienne. We tasted some wines there too, and bought a couple of bottles to have back at the gite in the evening with our evening meals. Chablis comes in several styles, depending on which plot of land the different grapes are grown on, meaning the kind of soil they are planted in and whether the vines are on a hillside with full exposure to the sun or on flatter land. The styles are Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru. All are good and all are distinctive.
Earlier posts about Chablis are here and here.