The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 88 of 124

88 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2015/2016 "Le Chablis Aime Jouer" For anyone who wants—almost literally—to dig beneath the surface to understand more about Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru it's essential to know a little about what they call Climats, because therein lie the secrets to all the complexity and fascination. A Climat is similar to the notion of a terroir ; it encapsulates all the many features that mean that wines from one place are not the same as those from another, even if the two are only a matter of a few hundred meters apart. Of the 47 Climats in Chablis, 40 relate to Chablis Premier Cru vineyards but only 12 of these represent more than 80% of Chablis Premier Cru in volume. That would be a manageable number if that were all there was to learn, but within each Climat the permutations are almost infinite because of the soil (le sol) the exposure to the sun (l'exposition) the slope (la pente). It's becoming increasing clear why people say that "le Chablis aime jouer"—Chablis likes to play, or to put it another way, Chablis likes to keep you guessing. Two Sides to the Story The river Serein, which incidentally means "peaceful," runs roughly from southeast to northwest and divides the region into a Left Bank (west) and a Right Bank (east). Each stream that flows into Le Serein creates its own small valley thus forming a series of ridges, roughly perpendicular to the main river, on each side of the main valley. On the Left Bank these ridges march almost in a line from northwest to southeast. On the sunny southeast faces of the ridges one finds the Chablis Premier Cru Climats, while grapes on the reverse, northwest-facing slopes go into Chablis. A similar pattern emerges on the Right Bank, where the most sought-after slopes face southwest and sometimes due south. MAP: BENOIT FRANCE/BIVB

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