The first time I ever tasted Chablis, it was 1980… I was eight years old.
My grandparents’ house was the place for family gatherings, and on Catholic holidays they’d serve up traditional Polish American fare: pierogis, sauerkraut, flounder, along with a big jug of white Chablis. Wine seemed pretty important; after all, priests drank it, so I asked if I could try some.
I remember not liking it too much, and it turns out my instinct wasn’t off, even for an eight year-old: That wasn’t real Chablis after all – ‘twas made in bulk, in California! But thanks to those memories, some thirty years later, many of us still think Chablis is a jug wine that you drink to repent for your sins, or sometimes, to marinate your pork ribs with.
But true Chablis, and the region it comes from – Burgundy, France – are responsible for some of the best wines in the world. And Deschere’s has some… so read on, to re-educate your palate!
The Burgundy region of France is located east-of-center, close to the country’s border with Switzerland. In the Middle ages, the area was under strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church. Coincidentally, men of the cloth had a lot to do with Burgundy’s rich wine heritage.
As Churches acquired land, Cistercian and Benedictine monks experimented with wine grapes and vineyards. They became so intimately familiar with the vineyards, that they categorized and ranked all of the different parcels throughout. This system was so reliable and accurate, that most of those vineyards still remain over 1000 years later. The best wines come from the Grand Cru (Great Growth) and the Premier Cru (First Growth) parcels.
Check out some of the pictures in this Gallery to see Burgundy for yourself:
Confusing as French wine labels are, there are only two main things you need to know about Burgundy wines: Most whites are made from Chardonnay and most reds are made from Pinot noir.
What Does Burgundy Wine Taste Like?
For those who are used to drinking California Chardonnay, Burgundy Chard is a bit of a surprise. French winemakers prefer their wines to be, “naked,” meaning they don’t like to interfere with the natural character of the grape too much. Burgundy is crisp, subtly fruity, lighter and certainly, has less oak.
Burgundy Reds made from Pinot noir tend to be very light and elegant, some may even call them feminine: They’re subtly beautiful with an underlying complexity that only reveals itself upon closer inspection. You’ll taste fresh strawberries, raspberries, smoke and cedar from French oak barrels, and in older wines, a hint of earthiness.
Although it’s a part of Burgundy, Chablis is a satellite that sits further north, close to Champagne and Paris. Temperatures are much cooler here, and therefore, make for wines that are very sharp, acidic and light. Chablis wines typically use little-to-no oak, so these are even more naked than Burgundy.
What’s On Offer…
If you’ve never had a real Burgundy or Chablis, Deschere’s is proud to offer four amazing examples, all worth seeking out. These are certainly not your grandma’s jug wines, and we feel, you owe it to yourself to find out what 1000 years of history tastes like. Be sure to click the attached links for more information, and to find a PA State store where you can buy these gems:
#74534 La Chablisienne Cote de Lechét 1er Cru 2015 (Chablis) – $29.99
90 points, Wine Advocate
La Chablisienne was founded in Chablis, in 1923. This top-ranked wine (Premier Cru) is practically as good as it gets! For its pale yellow color in the glass, the first aromas you get are of spices, toast and white fruit. The wine has finesse and complexity, it is fruity, floral and chalky. The long, mineral finish and acidity linger… Perfect for cooked shellfish, and raw-bar staples like oysters, clams, and scallops.
92 Points, Wine Advocate
Another first-growth wine, this one is also a pale yellow color with some light green glints. The expressive nose of white peach and apple is enhanced by a touch of soft vanilla. It’s fresh and lively in the mouth with a flavor of white-fleshed fruits, white flowers and minerals. The lingering finish ends both rich, and slightly spiced. This would be a great compliment to poached lobster and sweet King crab legs.
This is Pinot noir as it should be – the true, original from Burgundy, France. Often lighter and more elegant than New-World versions, this is a wine with subtle finesse and flavor that is perfect with lighter fare. Elegant aromas of crushed raspberry and strawberry with a hint of earth. French Pinot is amazing with roasted fowl, especially turkey and duck, and with creamy, stinky cheeses.
Terres Secrètes was founded in 1928, and its world-famous Chardonnay is at home in the Macconais region of Burgundy; the grape actually takes its name from an ancient village there. This is one very expressive wine: clear and bright with aromas of white flowers, citrus and yellow fruit, smooth and full in the mouth. Burgundy Chards are great with butter-poached seafoods, escargot, and roasted poultry.