Chablis still causes confusion, thanks to the California brands that co-opted the name for their jug whites decades ago, the same brands that created such infamous reds as “Hearty Burgundy.” In fact, the real Chablis is about as far from California generic as you can get. Chablis, of course, is the northern outpost of France’s Burgundy, and its stony soils produce some outstanding chardonnays, most of them made without exposure to oak.
I received several chablis for review the other day and was so taken by the first one I tasted that I wanted to let you know about it. The 2008 Petit Chablis from Domaine Bernard Defaix is a full 180 degrees away the rich, often-overbearing California style that, for better or worse, has come to represent chardonnay to many wine drinkers. Petit Chablis is the appellation for some of the outlying area of Chablis, and the wines tend to be light on the palate and relatively easy on the wallet.
Defaix’s Petit Chablis, about $17, is defined by a strong minerality with notes of green apple and lemon and lime peel. Its refreshing acidity and alcohol of just 12.5 percent make it almost thirst quenching as an aperitif. A rounded, slightly creamy finish gives it added dimension and moves it beyond a mere quaffing wine. Made for shellfish and simply broiled fish. Imported by Winebow, Inc., New York.