Some of the world’s most interesting Chardonnays are from Chablis—here are 10 bottles to look for.

By Brian Freedman
January 13, 2020
Courtesy of Domaine Laroche

There’s a solid argument to be made that Chardonnay reaches peak purity in Chablis. The famously limestone-rich soils of Chablis, the northernmost appellation of Burgundy, produce Chardonnays of incisive acidity, mouthwatering freshness, and an occasionally saline note that reminds its fans of everything from oyster shells to the aromas of the seashore.

Stylistically, though there are certainly some producers who work in a more modern, wood-influenced manner, classic Chablis tends to be more about expressing the land’s minerality than anything else.

And the price is hard to beat. Even when it comes to Grand Cru bottlings, age-worthy vintages from even top producers are often affordable, especially when compared to what the Grand Cru whites of the Côte d’Or command. They’re different wines entirely, of course, but the value proposition with Chablis is serious.

Here are 10 of my favorites, listed alphabetically, for under $40. Whether paired with seafood that mirrors its salinity, a creamy pasta dish in order to slice through the richness, or simply sipped on its own, they’re fantastic wines any time of year.

2017 Domaine Barat Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet ($35)

There is a beautifully concentrated inner core to this wine, a sense of energy behind the lemon-lime, verbena, ripe green apples, and salty finish bursting with citrus and a bit of honey.

2017 Domaine de Chantemerle Chablis ($25)

Aromas of ripe autumn orchard fruit are joined by the subtlest hint of barely perceptible pineapple, and turn to flavors of passionfruit, lemon-lime, and a bone-dry finish that sings through with chalk and demands to be paired with fresh, simply prepared seafood.

2018 Domaine Gueguen Chablis ($18)

White grapefruit and flowers rise from the glass, and get the mouth watering for a wine of subtle salinity, as well as fresh-squeezed lemons and limes and a hint of spice.

Courtesy of Domaine Laroche

2017 Domaine Laroche Chablis Saint Martin 2017 ($36)

Lemon notes are deeply savory with oyster shells and chalk, and turn to a linear, concentrated palate vibrant with acidity that carries flecks of tarragon and fennel bulb that spark through lemon, lime, crushed rocks, and a chalky finish. This is a serious entry-level bottling.

2017 Domaine Pinson Chablis 1er Cru Mont-de-Milieu ($36)

Rich, caramel-enrobed notes of ripe persimmons, mandarin oranges, and honey-dipped apples are followed by dense yet energetic flavors of caramel- and peanut-crusted apples, marzipan, and a mineral-zipped finish that lingers on the tongue for well longer than expected.

2017 Domaine Vocoret & Fils Chablis ($31)

A nutty character like mashed almonds sets the stage for a palate of both breadth and structure, with hard apricots and yellow apples carrying through to the medium-length, mineral-flecked finish.

2017 Eleni & Edouard Vocoret Chablis “Les Pargues” ($36)

A thoroughly idiosyncratic nose of ripe green apples and grilled pineapples turns to a palate of weight and depth that carries flavors of grilled pineapple, lime zest, spice, and a hint of butterscotch on the mouthwatering finish. Very different style, but beautifully executed.

2017 Gilbert Picq & ses Fils Chablis ($27)

A pure beam of oyster shells and lemon juice jumps from the glass, and precede a palate with laser-like precision, the chalky, almost briny savoriness brightened up with lemon zest, fresh-squeezed lime, and a hint of shiso.

2017 Jean Durup Père & Fils Château de Maligny Chablis ($30)

A richer style aromatically, with nectarines and cantaloupes setting the stage for a sweetly spiced palate ripe with caramel-coated apples, preserved lemons, and, faintly, crushed peanuts.

2016 Prosper Maufoux Chablis ($29)

Ripe and almost smoky aromatics alongside a palate of chalk-flecked and honey-drizzled white grapefruit. Excellent presence on the tongue without sacrificing any energy.

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