Who do you trust with your wine buying?
A recent article in Publix’s publication, Grape Magazine, spurred this post. I was flipping through the Sunday edition of the Naples Daily News when I came across the Grape and became interested and started flipping as well. The issue had a lot of helpful tips and recipe pairings, but I was extremely disturbed with one article. Called “Wine Simplified” it explored the grape varietal of Chablis….uh excuse me?
According to the Wine Lover’s Companion (my favorite wine encyclopedia and a must for all wine geeks), varietal is defined as “A wine that uses the name of the dominant grape from which it’s made such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling.” That same resource defines Chablis as “A small growing district located 110 miles southeast of Paris that encircles the town of Chablis in France’s Burgundy region.” But for many of us, we already new that…Chablis is a region, not a grape varietal. I highly respect Publix’s business model and their history of growth, but this article does make me question the information dispensed by this article.
It is true, that most European wines (like Chablis) are labeled by their region rather than their grape varietal (a new world practice), and it is an education process that many in the wine industry have been working to disseminate to the wine loving public. Unfortunately lacking this education kind of makes us Americans look a little naive when it comes to wine.
So I ask who do you trust with your wine buying? With so many self-proclaimed experts (which we are not claiming we are) on the web, in stores and restaurants, it is really hard to disseminate which are qualified to help educate and develop your palette? Many times it depends on what you – the consumer – want out of the relationship with your wine expert. Do you want me to recommend a crisp and clean Pinot Grigio similar to Santa Margherita, sure I can do that. Want to learn about how Caymus makes their Special Selection? I can help you out with that too. Want to know how to grow your own grapes and make wine from scratch? Hmmm, let me refer you to someone else. And maybe that’s the key, finding someone that you can trust so much that you know that when they don’t have the right answer for you they’ll either find it or refer you to someone else.
So with that in mind, let me refer you to some information about Chablis, sourced from the Wine Lover’s Companion….
Varietal (Grape): 100% Chardonnay
Region: Chablis is a small region within the region of Burgundy in France. Chablis is an unique growing region because it produces harsher weather elements than the rest of the larger region of Burgundy. Due to cooler temperatures, the Chardonnay grapes do not ripen as fully as the Chardonnay from other regions of Burgundy.
Description of the wines: Chablis wines are somewhat different than your typical Burgundy Chardonnay. They are characterized many times by dryer finishes, more complex flavors, and a touch of minerality. Most producers in Chablis produce an un-oaked version of Chardonnay leading to to cleaner flavors and often a misnomer among Americans that Chablis is a different wine than Chardonnay (the missing oak confuses many people, Chardonnay has a much different flavor when aged in stainless steel tanks). However, Chablis can also be aged in oak barrels which leads to smoke and vanilla flavors.
Price point: Chablis has a wide range of pricepoints starting at very affordable value brands which can be as little as $7-$8 per bottle. However this region also produces some of the world’s best known white wines, and the Grand Cru vineyards (seven total) can command upwards of $50-$75 per bottle at release.