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What’s so special about Chablis and why is it always so pricey?

How to Drink Better: Good news is most supermarkets will have a decent Chablis for €18-€20

Chablis is one of the best-known wine names, available in every wine shop and supermarket as well as most restaurants. Chablis is a town in the northern tip of Burgundy in France and the wine of the same name comes from vineyards in the surrounding area. All wines with the name Chablis are made 100 per cent from the chardonnay grape, although you won’t see it on the label.

Chablis is popular because it is light-bodied with clean crisp refreshing apple and citrus fruits and a dry finish. Many wine drinkers like it because it is very rarely aged in new oak barrels and therefore does not have that toasty, nutty flavour disliked by some. Chablis is frequently referred to as steely or flinty.

Because of its high acidity, Chablis is seen as the ideal wine to drink with oysters and other shellfish, sushi, sashimi and most fish dishes. However, it also goes well with snails, creamy chicken dishes and pork chops. At tastings in Chablis, they frequently serve gougères, delicious cheesy choux pastry puffs. In fact, if you are a white wine lover, you can enjoy it with a wide variety of dishes. It is a good choice if a group of you are eating a variety of dishes in a restaurant.

As with many French wines, Chablis has various quality levels. Petit-Chablis is the least expensive, made from grapes grown in less favoured vineyards. Then there is Chablis, which covers the majority of wines produced in the region. The next level up is Chablis Premier Cru; these are 40 vineyards, all of which have better exposure and the desirable chalk and kimmeridgian soils. They produce better quality wines. At the very top level there are seven Grand Cru vineyards, all on the same hillside overlooking the town of Chablis.


Partly because of its popularity, Chablis is rarely cheap. In addition, the region is quite northerly and spring frosts are a real danger; several vintages have been decimated in recent years. Expect to pay about €25 for Petit Chablis, €30 for a Chablis, €50-60 for a Premier Cru and €100 for a Grand Cru. The good news is most supermarkets will have a decent Chablis for €18-€20.