Chablis is perhaps the purest expression of the Chardonnay grape.  Generally untouched by oak barrels these wines communicate terroir with starling directness.  You get mostly minerals: a taste described variously as “gun flint,” “steel and hay,” or ”wet stone.”

Owing to ever increasing demand, the area under vines that can be deemed “Chablis” has expanded tenfold since the end of the second World War. The better Chablis wines come from the original region, that core distinguished by their Kimmeridgean soils; a mixture of limestone, clay, and fossilized oyster shells.

Radiating outward the soils are Portlandian, the same approximate muddle of dirt but less decomposed. The best sites are identified as Grand Cru and Premier Cru.  Wasn’t so long ago mere mortals could occasionally splash out on the former, and buy the latter when they had scored a particularly fine piece of fish.  But they are getting pricey with demand far exceeding supply.

We could drink Premier Cru Chablis every day for the rest of our life and never tire of it, something we can’t say for any other wine. Chablis wines are such a perfect match for seafood, they are of particular interest to we Newfoundlanders.

William Fevre Chablis ($32.23)
Find it in the France Section

William Fevre is one of the top producers of Chablis.  Their basic “Chablis” gives a clear indication what the fuss is about, it’s chalky, saline, sturdily framed with acid.  There is some citrus, meyer lemon maybe, and a little butteriness and fullness in the mouth that suggest some portion of the blend spent some time in wood.  Calls for halibut.

Moreau & Fils Petit Chablis ($27.97)
Find it in the France Section

The J. Moreau & Fils Petit Chablis ends up being just that, a smaller, slighter version.  This is a perfectly drinkable glass of white wine, but there is far less of the striking stoniness and flintiness you get from the big boys.  Nothing to wow you, but a suitable accompaniment to a good fi a chi.