Chablis vs Chardonnay: The Tale of Burgundy

Chablis and Chardonnay are two classic white wine varieties from the French wine region of Burgundy. They are actually produced from the same grape; the difference between them are about WHERE and HOW, the grape is made into wine, rather than the grape itself.

The Burgundy region of France, where both Chabis and Chardonnay hail from.

-The Main Difference Between Chablis and Chardonnay

The main difference between Chablis and Chardonnay is that–with some rare exceptions–Chablis is NOT oak-aged. This makes for a “purer”, and some would argue, a more natural wine, without the “buttery” notes that oak-aged Chardonnay can develop. With Chablis, think citrus, pineapples and green-tree fruits–it’s a true expression of the Chardonnay grape, grown on the Kimmeridgian chalk soils of Chablis without any post-fragmentation interference.

-What is Chablis?

Chablis is 100% Chardonnay. It’s grown exclusively around the Serein River that runs through the town of Chablis, whose banks gives way to high slopes formed on 150 million year-old Kimmeridgian soil. For this reason, Chablis might well be known as the “Northern Chardonnay”, because most French Chardonnay is grown in the warmer climates of south Burgundy–particularly in the Maconnais, where the grape is believed to be originated.

Authentic Chablis is known for its notes of apples, pear, and tree fruit, providing a young and refreshing alternative to the medium-bodied Chardonnay that predominates white wine shelves around the world. In fact it has becaome SO popular that it has spawned a category of it’s own in American vineyards, known as “uncorked Chardonnay”.

-What is Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is a more general term than Chablis, and it is produced by a huge range of winemakers across the globe. This is why Chardonnay predominates on supermarket shelves: it’s sucha versatile grape that it can withstand most climatesand soils, and produce some interesting variations along the way.

In essence, Chardonnay is an extremely versatile white grape originally from the Burgundy region of France. It’s used to produce a special white wine witht the same name. It might as well be the world’s best well-known white wine, and probably one of the best wines that cames to mind when people think about wine at all. Chardonnay is produced not just in France, but also in Spain, Oregon, the Napa Valley, Italy and Australia., owing its favorable adaption to different climates and territories.

The Chardonnay grape itself is a cross between Pinot Noir and Founais Blanc (first brought to France from Croatia, by the Romans), and typically imparts on a tropical bouquet of pineapple, pear and jackfruit. Of course, this depends on where the Chardonnay is from, and for how long it has been oaked. One of the most well-known characteristics of oaked Chardonnay is a buttery or vanilla flavor that develops, which is in stark contrast to the natural palette of uncorked Chablis.

Question: Is Chablis Sweeter than Chardonnay?

Judging the relative sweetness of Chablis and Chardonnay isn’t entirely straightforward–both wines are traditionally dry white wines. As a rule though, Chablis is even drier than Chardonnay! The reason for this is because Chardonnay is sometimes blended with other grapes depending on the region, which might not contain the higher levels of natural sugars. Furthermore, New World Chardonnay producers might chose to interrupt fermentation before it’s completed, resulting in more residual sugars, whereas Chablis the grapes undergo the full fermentation cycle.

Final Thoughts on Chablis vs Chardonnay

On paper, Chablis vs Chardonnay seems to be a question without much depth. Diving into it, there are a world of nuances between them. I hope that this blog has deepened people’s understanding of these two great French white wines, and will help that person choose the right one for their purpose.

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