That white wine in a jug from California, labeled Chablis, is anything but Chablis.
Chablis has long suffered from bad white wines from regions outside Burgundy calling their Chardonnay the French classic. Arguably, Chablis is the world’s greatest white wine. Chablis is Chardonnay, but not all Chardonnay is Chablis.
Now that’s not wine geek double-talk. It only takes one taste of French Chablis to realize Chardonnay can be so much more than the big buttery, oak-infused wines coming from many wine regions. And those wine lovers who like oaked Chardonnay have to admit Chablis is something totally different.
Chablis is about two hours southeast of Paris in the northernmost region of Burgundy.
Winemakers grow Chardonnay almost exclusively. Chablis sets in a small valley with steep hills on each side covered with vineyard. There are four main appellations of Chablis: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier Cru and Grand Cru. The Petit Chablis and Chablis represent the largest plantings and also the wines that are least expensive. These wines can be found in any decent wine shop at $15 to $25. The quality is superb at that price point.
The hillsides have plenty of limestone beneath the soils. A walk through the vineyard illustrates the wine’s minerality by the amount of rock scattered across the vineyard floor.
The truly great Chablis wines are the Premier and Grand Cru wines. There are approximately 2,000 acres of Premier Cru vineyard and a mere 250 acres of Grand Cru grapes.
Chablis at the lower price point is often, though not always, fermented and aged without oak. The Premier and Grand Cru wines often are aged partially with oak and stainless steel.
Many wine drinkers think of white wine as a consumable product different from big reds. The great Chablis wines only improve with age and offer complexity and a soft richness on the palate only aging can deliver.
Chablis is a region of rich tradition, pride and stubborn adherence to its heritage. A new generation of Chablis winemakers are experimenting with technology, wine-making techniques and embracing the marketing of their unique region.
But to understand the French passion for wine there is nothing better than a visit with one of the region’s biggest names. Bernard Billaud of Billaud-Simon is an icon. Visiting with him in October was an unforgettable experience.
“Chablis wine is about minerality and acidity,” he said, raising his voice, when asked a second or third time about the increasing use of oak. “If it’s not about minerality, you’re just making Chardonnay.”
While the comment by itself is not terribly profound, you had to hear the derision and the way he strung out the word C-h-a-r-d-on-n-a-y to know he is a man of passion.
“The more minerally the soil, the more iodine it has and then the more it needs wood,” Billaud said. He added that oak will neutralizes the iodine taste. “Chablis wines are acidic wines and a dry white wine from a singular vineyard.”
What is so wonderful about Chablis? It’s the apple, pear and dry mineral taste that goes so perfectly with food — particularly seafood or poultry.
Howard’s Picks: Billaud-Simon, William Ferve, Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, Jean Marc Brocard, Pascal Bouchard, Domaine des Marronniers and Alain Geoffroy. There are plenty of other labels to try but these were some of my favorites during an October 2012 visit.
Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, IN., writes every other week about wine for 22 Midwestern newspapers. Read his wine blog at its new home: www.howardhewitt.net.
That white wine in a jug from California, labeled Chablis, is anything but Chablis.
- Valley Life
Walk of a Lifetime: Writer discovers views fit for a painting while walking the cliffs of Prout’s Neck, home to famous artist Winslow Homer’s seaside studio
Editor’s Note: Today, we continue the New England Journal as Mike Lunsford writes of a day walking the Maine seacoast in search of the great artist, Winslow Homer. Join Mike in January for the fifth installment of this series as he visits Edna St. Vincent Millay’s rural New York farm, Steepletop.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Sustainability hubs will leave the world a better place
There is something powerful that happens when people ban together for greater good. In many cities throughout the United States there are sustainability hubs. While each one is uniquely different, they all have the common theme of leaving the world better than when they entered into it.
TRIED ’N’ TRUE: You can’t tell there’s Velveeta in this fudge
At Christmastime we make sweets, candy, cookies, etc. When we were in State Soil and Water, we would bring cookies and candy for the last night at the meetings. A friend of mine, Marie Bunting, brought this fudge recipe and samples.
Anniversary listings: Dec. 1, 2013
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Copeland
Mr. and Mrs. John Hemminghouse
Engagement listing: Dec. 1, 2013
Wedding listing: Dec. 1, 2013
Heightened Sense of Place: Educators’ efforts helped put geography back on map in schools
Geography transcends dots on a map.
Teachers traveling abroad alongside Terre Haute geographer Dorothy Drummond have experienced the real-life cultures, atmosphere and people existing within those dots. An educator herself, Drummond has organized affordable geography tours of foreign lands for Wabash Valley schoolteachers for many years. The journeys involved more than sight-seeing.
Families to remember children at Dec. 8 candle lighting
Members of the Clark County (Ill.) Chapter of The Compassionate Friends will participate in the Compassionate Friends 16th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting on Dec. 8. The event is designed to honor the memories of children who have died.
Shakamak Park earns honors for 4-H camp
Shakamak State Park was recently honored by Purdue Extension for hosting a 4-H summer camp that has served children since 1931.
The park was given the 2013 Friend of Extension award at the Purdue Extension Professional Development Conference Awards Banquet at West Lafayette earlier this month.
GRAPE SENSE: ‘Today’s Bordeaux’ campaign features more affordable wines
There is an old saying among wine enthusiasts: “The more you drink wine, the more you gravitate toward the French.”
And if you haven’t heard that one, certainly you’ve read and heard people talk about expensive French Bordeaux wines.
CASY to host Orientation I, II training in December
Chances and Services for Youth provides Orientation I training for those interested in becoming a licensed child care provider. Orientation I is part one of two trainings on opening a child care site.
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: A good bread for dishes like spaghetti or lasagna
I have made this bread for many years. It is wonderful with spaghetti or lasagna. I’m not sure where the recipe came from. We all love garlic bread. If you are just starting to make bread, this is a good one. I have taken this bread to the field, carry-in dinners, just about everywhere.
Anniversary listing: Nov. 24, 2013
Mr. and Mrs. L. Ray Shew
Find your roots at the Marshall Public Library
Marshall Public Library’s Genealogy Department has many tools to help researchers discover their family roots. On-site resources available include a collection of local history books and binders, marriage and probate record indexes, cemetery surname index and locator maps, plat books and land records, Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, Marshall High School yearbooks dating back to 1912 and newspapers on microfilm from 1865 to 2012.
Wedding listing: Nov. 24, 2013
Fade to Black: A few local theaters among last to part with century-old 35-mm film
The projectionist behind the first movie shown in the Indiana Theatre nearly 92 years ago would likely feel right at home in that same booth today.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Nothing healthy about seeing green in mid-to-late November
Fall is in full force, the skies are gray and trees have shaken their leaves to the forest floor. The outskirts of dormant wooded areas are lined with a thick brush of green. While green may signify a healthy forest, there is nothing healthy about seeing bright green in mid-to-late November. What you are witnessing as you drive by is an invasive species called Asian Bush Honeysuckle.
CHRIS DAVIES: While you’re waiting on a quick fix for weight loss, a couple suggestions …
By now you may have heard about a wonder supplement Cortislim. Annoying Cortislim ads claim to rid your body of unwanted belly fat by suppressing the stress hormone cortisol. Like other supplements before, their claims were not proven.
Sewing Connection auction Nov. 18 to feature homemade items
The Wabash Valley Sewing Connection will have an auction on Monday in the Girl Scout Service Center in Fairbanks Park beginning at 9 a.m. and continuing until all items are sold. Admission is free.
Correctional Facility seeks kids’ books
The Hope Center, a parenting program at the Rockville Correctional Facility, is asking for donations of gently “pre-read” children’s books to use for their Read-to-Me program. Donations may be dropped off at the Rockville Public Library, 106 N. Market St.
TRIED ’N’ TRUE: Serve Pecan Sour Cream Coffee Cake as breakfast appetizer
Last July I was with a friend of mine helping her with her home and dog. I was looking through her cookbooks and I saw this coffee cake recipe. This would be a good recipe for when we have family and friends overnight for Thanksgiving
Rox Alumni gets nonprofit approval
The Rockville Alumni Foundation, Inc. has been approved by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization.
Donations made to the organization will be tax–deductible. The approval is retroactive to June 27.
Time to submit Komen grant apps by Dec. 15
The Wabash Valley affiliate of Susan G. Komen is now accepting grant applications for the 2014-2015 grant cycle. The deadline for grant applications is Dec. 15.
Terre Foods encourages co-op membership
Terre Foods Cooperative Market is launching a holiday membership drive by offering people the opportunity to purchase a membership gift for themselves, a loved one or a friend.
Engagement listing: Nov. 17, 2013
Anniversary listings: Nov. 17, 2013
Mr. and Mrs. Rex Moore
Mr. and Mrs. Earnest I. Dayhuff Jr.
Families to remember kids at Dec. 8 candle lighting
Members of the Clark County (Ill.) Chapter of The Compassionate Friends will participate in the Compassionate Friends 16th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting on Dec. 8. The event is designed to honor the memories of all children, regardless of age, who have died.
Learn what’s in store: ‘Agricultural Outlook 2014’ Nov. 22
The Purdue Extension Service of Vermillion County will host “Agricultural Outlook 2014,” at 8:15 a.m. Nov. 22 at the Vermillion County Fairgrounds, Cayuga. The free program is designed to help farmers, land owners, input suppliers and those interested in agriculture make better business decisions in the coming year.
HEALING WATERS: Team River Runner offers inspiration, opens doors for wounded veterans
Some people say the fun of boating on the Wabash is dealing with unexpected challenges such a big body of water can present on certain days; others delight in the wild beauty at Terre Haute’s doorstep, from bald eagles soaring above trees lining the banks of the Wabash to the panorama of the river itself as it curls through woodland in many places reminiscent of primeval splendor seen hundreds of years ago.
GRAPE SENSE: Fall is wine shipping — and sampling — time
Fall is wine shipping season. That means if you buy wine online or direct from a winery several states away, now is the time to get it shipped to your wine rack at home.
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- Walk of a Lifetime: Writer discovers views fit for a painting while walking the cliffs of Prout’s Neck, home to famous artist Winslow Homer’s seaside studio