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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. “Many people do not think Chablis is chardonnay but just a dry white wine that people love,” explained Gwenaël Laroche of Domaine Laroche as she spoke. “Chablis is in a class of its own.” Gwenaël Laroche of Domaine Laroche
Chablis is located in the northernmost region of Burgundy, France. With a cool continental climate and soils consisting of limestone over marine fossil-rich Kimmeridgian clay, Chablis is home to chardonnay, and only chardonnay, making one-third of the total production of white wine in Burgundy.
“Chablis is the real image of Burgundy,” Laroche said. There are 40 Premier Cru vineyards and seven Grand Cru vineyards in Chablis. From one vineyard to the next, the notion of terroir is expressed in each wine, which has its own style.
Domaine Laroche is showcasing the terroirs of Chablis in their portfolio of wines. Michel Laroche, husband of Gwenaël, grew up in Chablis where his parents had six hectares in the 1960s. As a young adult, Michel created a negociant business in which he was buying and selling juice.
With the money he made, he bought 40 hectares (100 acres) in 1990. Today, with 90 hectares (220 acres), Laroche has 30 hectares in Premier Cru vineyards and six hectares in Grand Cru vineyards. In fact, Laroche is the largest land owner of Grand Cru vineyards in Chablis.
"Chablis is chardonnay, but not every chardonnay is Chablis." - Rosemary George    So many times you hear people say "I don't like Chardonnay" or "ABC - Anything But Chardonnay." Usually this is because when they think of Chardonnay, they think of creamy, unctuous wine that tastes more like a wood chip or buttered popcorn. Now, I am not a fan of this style of wine either, but I always say not to make a generalized blanket statement saying you don't like an entire category. Why? Because not all Chardonnays are butter bombs. Take Chablis. Located in the northern part of Burgundy, France, Chablis is a cool climate that consists of rich limestone soil, producing wines with more acidity and a "flinty" (or "steely" or "mineral") note. Most Chablis is completely unoaked and vinified in stainless steel tanks. There are four classification levels: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.