How to store Chablis

The art of serving and storing Chablis

Chablis, the prestigious, northernmost appellation of Burgundy is famed for producing mineral and refreshing whites from the Chardonnay grape. This white wine is celebrated for its complex minerality, vibrant acidity, and exquisite balance in the very best vintages from the top vineyard sites and producers. Chablis is a large and ever growing region with four categorisations, none of these really impact the storage temperatures or service temperatures of the wine but they do impact how to mature the wines.

Chablis wines are classified into four appellations, each representing a different quality tier and vineyard location. Understanding these appellations is key to navigating the diverse offerings of Chablis and thus serving and storing the wines properly.

  1. Chablis AOC:

    • This is the most extensive appellation, covering vineyards throughout the Chablis region.
    • Wines labeled as Chablis AOC are typically the entry-level expressions, but don't let that fool you. These wines can showcase the quintessential Chablis characteristics, offering freshness, minerality, and a vibrant acidity.
  2. Chablis Premier Cru:

    • The next tier up in terms of quality and prestige.
    • Premier Cru vineyards are recognised for their unique microclimates and terroirs.
    • Wines from these vineyards often display a more pronounced expression of Chablis' signature traits, with added complexity and depth.
  3. Chablis Grand Cru:

    • At the top of the quality pyramid, Grand Cru wines hail from the best seven climats in Chablis.
    • There are seven climats in Chablis within it's Grand Cru vineyard, each with its distinct characteristics.
    • Grand Cru Chablis is the epitome of elegance, intensity, and longevity. These wines can age gracefully for many years, evolving and developing new layers of complexity.
  4. Petit Chablis:

    • While not officially a separate appellation, Petit Chablis represents vineyards outside the defined Chablis AOC.
    • These wines are often seen as more accessible and approachable, providing an introduction to the Chablis style at a more affordable price point.

How to serve Chablis

Chablis, with its crisp acidity, minerality, and distinctive terroir, is a wine that deserves to be served with care and attention. Whether you're hosting a dinner party or simply indulging in a quiet evening at home, the way you serve Chablis can significantly impact your tasting experience. In this guide, we'll explore the art of serving Chablis to enhance its elegance and bring out the best in this iconic white wine.

  1. Temperature Matters:

    Chablis, like many white wines, is best served chilled but not too cold. Aim for a temperature between 7°C to 10°C. This allows the wine to express its vibrant acidity and preserves the delicate aromas. Consider placing the bottle in the refrigerator for about two hours before serving or using an ice bucket for a quicker chill.

  2. Choose the Right Glassware:

    The right glass can elevate your Chablis tasting experience. Opt for a medium-sized, tulip-shaped glass with a slightly narrower rim. This design helps concentrate the aromas while allowing the wine to breathe. Crystal clear glass is preferable, allowing you to appreciate the wine's color and clarity.

  3. Decanting – To Decant or Not to Decant?

    Chablis, particularly older vintages or wines from Premier or Grand Cru vineyards, can benefit from a brief decanting. This process helps open up the wine, allowing it to breathe and evolve. However, exercise caution, as over-decanting may lead to the loss of Chablis' delicate aromas. A short 15–30 minutes in the decanter is usually sufficient.

  4. Mindful Pouring:

    When pouring Chablis, do so gently to avoid disturbing any sediment that may have settled in the bottle. Hold the bottle by the base, and pour the wine into the glass slowly. This method ensures a clean and visually appealing presentation in the glass.

  5. Pairing with Food:

    Chablis is incredibly versatile when it comes to food pairings. Its high acidity and mineral character make it an excellent match for a variety of dishes. Consider serving Chablis with oysters, shellfish, grilled fish, or light poultry dishes. The wine's crispness complements the brininess of seafood and adds a refreshing contrast to richer fare.

  6. Serving Etiquette:

    When serving Chablis at a gathering, consider presenting the bottle to your guests before pouring. This allows them to appreciate the label and, if interested, inquire about the wine. Additionally, pouring a modest amount into each glass allows everyone to savor the wine at its optimal temperature.

How to store Chablis

Chablis, with its unique terroir and delicate nuances, is a wine that deserves to be stored with care to maintain its freshness and vibrancy. Proper storage not only preserves the quality of the wine but also allows it to evolve gracefully over time. In this guide, we will explore the key considerations for storing Chablis, ensuring that each bottle reaches its full potential.

  1. Temperature Control:

    The temperature at which you store your Chablis is crucial. Aim for a consistent temperature between 10°C to 13°C. Fluctuations in temperature can negatively impact the aging process and lead to premature aging or deterioration of the wine. Avoid storing Chablis in places prone to temperature extremes, such as near windows, radiators, or in unheated basements.

  2. Humidity Levels:

    Maintain a humidity level of around 70–75% in your storage space. Adequate humidity prevents the cork from drying out, which could lead to oxidation and spoilage. Wine cellars or dedicated wine fridges often provide the ideal conditions for both temperature and humidity control.

  3. Darkness is Key:

    Protect Chablis from light exposure, especially UV rays. Light can cause the wine to age prematurely and result in undesirable aromas and flavors. Store your bottles in a dark place or use wine storage solutions with UV-filtered glass.

  4. Store Bottles Horizontally:

    Storing wine bottles horizontally keeps the cork in constant contact with the wine, preventing it from drying out. A dry cork can lead to oxidation and compromise the integrity of the wine. Invest in a wine rack or cellar that accommodates horizontal storage.

  5. Minimize Vibrations:

    Excessive vibrations can disturb the sediment in the wine and negatively affect its aging process. Avoid storing Chablis near appliances or equipment that generate vibrations. If you are investing in a wine fridge, choose one with minimal vibration levels.

  6. Avoid Strong Odors:

    Wine is highly susceptible to absorbing external odors. Keep Chablis away from strong-smelling substances like cleaning chemicals, paints, or even aromatic foods. This will ensure that the wine retains its intended bouquet and flavors.

  7. Keep It Still:

    Once you've stored your Chablis, try to minimise unnecessary movement. Frequent handling or jostling can disturb the sediment in older wines and affect their overall quality. If you need to move bottles, do so gently and avoid unnecessary agitation.

  8. Consider a Wine Fridge:

    For enthusiasts looking to store Chablis for an extended period, investing in a freestanding wine fridge or wine storage cabinet is a wise choice. These appliances provide optimal conditions for temperature and humidity control, ensuring that your Chablis matures gracefully

What is the drinking window of Chablis, does Chablis age well?

Chablis, made from the Chardonnay grape, is often associated with freshness and youth. However, what sets it apart from many other Chardonnay wines is its ability to age while maintaining its vibrancy. The aging potential of Chablis depends on several factors, including the vintage, vineyard location, and the wine's classification (Chablis, Premier Cru, or Grand Cru).

  1. Chablis AOC:

    • Generally, Chablis labeled at the entry-level AOC is intended for earlier consumption, showcasing the wine's youthful exuberance.
    • While some Chablis AOC wines can age for a few years, most are best enjoyed within the first three to five years after release.
  2. Chablis Premier Cru:

    • Wines from Premier Cru vineyards often have a longer aging potential compared to their AOC counterparts.
    • A well-structured Premier Cru Chablis can age gracefully for five to ten years or even more, evolving into a more complex and nuanced expression.
  3. Chablis Grand Cru:

    • Grand Cru Chablis, sourced from the region's finest vineyard, is the epitome of aging potential.
    • These wines are known for their remarkable longevity and can develop for 10 years or more and even up to 20 years in some of the best vines of Les Clos, with some reaching their peak after several decades.

Factors Influencing Chablis Aging:

  1. Vintage Variation:

    • The characteristics of each vintage significantly impact how Chablis wines age. While some vintages may be more approachable in their youth, others may benefit from additional cellaring to reach their full potential.
  2. Terroir:

    • The unique terroir of Chablis, with its Kimmeridgian limestone soils, plays a crucial role in the wine's aging. Wines from specific vineyards may age differently due to their distinct microclimates and soil compositions.
  3. Winemaking Techniques:

    • The winemaker's choices, including the use of oak barrels and malolactic fermentation, influence how the wine ages. Some winemakers opt for minimal intervention to preserve the freshness of Chablis, while others may incorporate oak aging for added complexity.

Tips for Maturing Chablis:

  1. Optimal Storage Conditions:

    • Store Chablis in a cool, dark, and humid environment. A temperature-controlled wine cellar or fridge is ideal for maintaining consistent conditions.
  2. Patience is a Virtue:

    • Allow the wine sufficient time to evolve. While some Chablis may be enjoyable in their youth, the true magic often happens with patience.
  3. Tasting Along the Way:

    • Periodically sample a bottle from your collection to track its development. This allows you to gauge when the wine reaches its peak and tailor your consumption accordingly.

Chablis Vineyard

Which are the best vineyard sites of Chablis?

The recognised Grand Cru sites of Chablis are clearly some of the very best vineyard sites but also Fourcharme and other Premier Cru vineyards produce exceptional wines.

  1. The Grand Cru Vineyards:

    Chablis boasts one Grand Cru that is labelled by its seven climats, each with its own unique character and terroir. These prestigious sites, often situated on the slopes of the right bank of the Serein River, are renowned for producing some of the finest Chardonnay in the world. The seven climats within the Grand Cru vineyard are:

    • Blanchot: Known for its elegance and finesse, Blanchot produces wines with a remarkable balance of acidity and richness.

    • Bougros: Bougros wines are celebrated for their power and structure. They are known to age gracefully, revealing layers of complexity over time.

    • Les Clos: As the largest and most famous Grand Cru climats, Les Clos delivers wines of exceptional concentration, minerality, and longevity.

    • Grenouilles: Grenouilles wines are characterized by their aromatic intensity and floral notes, offering a distinctive expression of Chablis.

    • Preuses: Wines from Preuses are recognized for their precision and purity, often displaying a seamless integration of fruit and minerality.

    • Valmur: Valmur produces wines that strike a harmonious balance between richness and acidity, resulting in wines of great finesse.

    • Vaudésir: Vaudésir wines are known for their opulence and generosity, with a distinct combination of floral and citrus aromas.

  2. Terroir and Characteristics:

    The Grand Cru vineyard of Chablis is blessed with Kimmeridgian limestone soils, fossilized oyster shells, and a unique microclimate. This terroir imparts a distinct minerality and crisp acidity to the wines, setting them apart from Chardonnays produced elsewhere. The Grand Cru expressions of Chablis are marked by:

    • Minerality: The hallmark of Chablis, the minerality in Grand Cru wines is often likened to flint or wet stones, providing a sense of place and authenticity.

    • Acidity: While Chablis Grand Cru wines are rich and full-bodied, they maintain a vibrant acidity that contributes to their exceptional aging potential.

    • Complexity: Grand Cru Chablis wines are layered with complexity, offering a symphony of flavors that evolve over time. Citrus, green apple, white flowers, and hints of honey are among the nuances that may unfold.

  3. Winemaking Philosophy:

    Winemakers in Chablis approach the production of Grand Cru wines with a philosophy that respects the purity of the fruit and the unique terroir. Many choose to minimize the use of oak, opting for stainless steel or neutral oak to allow the natural characteristics of the grapes to shine through. Malolactic fermentation, a common practice in winemaking, is often handled judiciously to preserve the wine's crisp acidity.

  4. Aging Potential:

    Chablis Grand Cru wines are renowned for their exceptional aging potential. Properly stored bottles can evolve for several decades, with some reaching their peak after 10–20 years. During this time, the wines undergo a transformative journey, gaining complexity and developing a rich tapestry of aromas and flavors.

  5. Food Pairing:

    The versatility of Chablis Grand Cru extends to food pairings. These wines are excellent companions to a range of dishes, including oysters, seafood, poultry, and creamy cheeses. Their acidity and structure cut through richer foods, while the nuanced flavors complement a variety of culinary experiences.

  6. Investing in Grand Cru:

    Enthusiasts and collectors often seek out Chablis Grand Cru wines for their investment potential. Due to their limited production and the recognition of their exceptional quality, these wines can appreciate in value over time.

Which are the best wines of Chablis?

Chablis, the northernmost wine region in Burgundy, has long been celebrated for producing some of the world's finest white wines. Renowned for their crisp acidity, distinctive minerality, and elegant expressions of Chardonnay, Chablis wines captivate the palates of enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike. In this exploration, we will embark on a journey through the vineyards of Chablis to discover the best wines that epitomize the region's excellence.

  1. Chablis AOC - Entry into Elegance:

    The Chablis AOC, the foundation of the region's wine production, is the entry point for those eager to experience the essence of Chablis. These wines, crafted from vineyards across the Chablis region, showcase the classic characteristics of the area:

    • Domaine William Fèvre Chablis: Known for its commitment to organic farming, Domaine William Fèvre produces a Chablis AOC that is a true reflection of the region's terroir. The wine exhibits a vibrant acidity, crisp green apple notes, and a subtle minerality.

    • Domaine Laroche Saint Martin Chablis: This producer, with a history dating back to 1850, delivers a Chablis AOC that balances freshness with a delicate creaminess. Aromas of citrus and white flowers are complemented by a lively acidity, making it an excellent introduction to Chablis.

  2. Premier Cru Prowess - Elevated Complexity:

    The Premier Cru vineyards of Chablis, boasting unique terroirs and microclimates, give rise to wines of heightened complexity and sophistication. These selections exemplify the exceptional quality of Chablis Premier Cru:

    • Domaine Vincent Dauvissat La Forest 1er Cru: La Forest is one of the renowned Premier Cru vineyards, and Domaine Vincent Dauvissat's expression is a masterpiece. With its intense minerality, precise acidity, and layers of citrus and stone fruit, this wine is a testament to the finesse of Premier Cru Chablis.

    • Domaine Raveneau Montée de Tonnerre 1er Cru: As one of the most respected producers in Chablis, Domaine Raveneau's Montée de Tonnerre Premier Cru is a showcase of elegance. It combines floral aromas with a rich palate of ripe fruits, all held together by a vibrant acidity.

  3. Grand Cru Grandeur - Pinnacle of Perfection:

    The Grand Cru vineyard of Chablis, the apex of the region's hierarchy, produces wines of unparalleled depth, concentration, and longevity. These are the crown jewels of Chablis:

    • Domaine François Raveneau Les Clos Grand Cru: Les Clos, the largest and most famous Grand Cru vineyard, yields wines of extraordinary power and complexity. Domaine François Raveneau's interpretation is a masterclass in Chablis grandeur, with its mineral backbone, rich texture, and a harmonious blend of fruit and acidity.

    • Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils Valmur Grand Cru: Valmur, another revered Grand Cru site, is home to this producer's exceptional expression. With its opulent texture, vibrant acidity, and a symphony of orchard fruits, this wine exemplifies the best of Valmur's terroir.

  4. Old Vintages - A Glimpse into History:

    Exploring Chablis can be a journey through time, and aged bottles often reveal the wine's ability to evolve gracefully. Seek out older vintages from respected producers like Domaine Raveneau, Domaine Dauvissat, or Domaine François Raveneau for a glimpse into the past and the nuanced development of Chablis over the years.

If you need any help choosing a wine fridge to ideally store and serve Chablis or any of the white wines of Burgundy then please visit us in our London store or talk to us via Live Chat for expert advice.

Sarah newton

Author - Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton has worked in the wine industry for two decades holding senior positions at some of the UK wine industry's leading brands. The MD of Coolersomm, Sarah is WSET certified and our lead wine buyer too.