Comparing Chablis vs Champagne is a fun way to explore two popular French wine options. Experts in wine can tell the difference, and you’re about to learn them too. It all starts with where these wines are produced in France.
Chablis vs Champagne: The Geography Difference
The main difference between these wines is geography. That’s why wine tasting clubs often start with the wine’s origin.
Champagne is one of France’s largest wine regions which includes many champagne houses. The champagne region is located approximately 122 KM (76g miles) northeast of Paris. The Champagne wine region is approximately 341 square kilometers (132 square miles) and is best known for its sparkling wine and white wines.
In comparison, the Chablis appellation is located in Burgundy. Chablis is located 200 KM southwest of Paris (125 miles). In size, the Chablis appellation is 67 square kilometers (26 square miles). Chablis, as an appellation, is much smaller in size than Champagne which is a region. Chablis is made from Chardonnay grapes. The appellation includes different quality levels, such as Chablis Grand Cru and Cru vineyards.
Both Chablis appellation and Champagne are popular with wine tasting clubs, wine journalists, and many others. Champagne has famous Champagne houses with long histories. Chablis isn’t quite as well known as Champagne, but plenty of wine writers still celebrate it. French specialists in wine tend to know both varieties in detail.
How Do These French Wines Taste?
To understand the main taste differences between these wines, there are two factors to consider. First, consider the grape variety. Second, consider the production method (i.e., still vs. sparkling wine).
The main grape varieties used in Champagne’s sparkling wines are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The official Champagne website points out that there are some other grape varieties permitted, including Arbane, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris.
In Champagne, your experience of wine is shaped first by the bubbles. After you experience the bubbles of an elegant wine, a few flavors will be familiar, like green apple, citrus fruit, cream, and even vanilla. When you pour glasses of wine from a Champagne bottle, the specific flavors may vary depending on the vintage, producer, wine age, and other factors.
Chablis vs Champagne: How Much Do They Cost?
On Travel By Glass, a leading wine travel blog, I aim to give you various wine suggestions at different prices. With Chablis and Champagne, the situation is different. These wines tend to have higher prices, especially if you enjoy them outside France. Opening a fine bottle from a restaurant with great wine cellars can be quite the experience!
Champagne wine prices, in the USA, tend to be high – often over $90. Some well-known producers like Dom Perignon charge even higher prices because they are well-known. In your journey of wine exploration, you may start with limited funds. To save money when you’re first getting started, consider picking up a half bottle (i.e., a 375 ml bottle which will give you two glasses of wine) – an excellent inexpensive wine option. If Champagne is outside your price range, then you may want to consider champagne alternatives like crémant de Bourgogne.
Chablis Wine Prices
The price you pay for a bottle of wine, including Chablis, tends on several factors. Some production methods, like biodynamic wines or organic wines, may have a higher price. Also, a wine guaranteed to come from Chablis only (i.e. with a d’origine contrôlée or similar label) may cost more.
If your country of residence is not France, Chablis and Champagne will cost more due to transportation, customs, and taxes. With those points covered, let’s look at Chablis prices.
High-End Chablis (over $1000 per bottle)
There are hundreds of wine options priced above $1000 per bottle. If you’re the kind of person who loves the most expensive bottle of wine, these high-end Chablis bottles may be for you. For example, the 2014 Domaine Raveneau Chablis Les Clos sells for over $6,000 per bottle!
Mid Range Chablis ($50 to $100)
This is the sweet spot for great Chablis wines. Many Grand Cru Chablis wines are available in the $90-$100 range, like Jean et Sebastien Dauvissat Chablis Les Preuses Grand Cru and Domaine Guy Robin Les Clos, Chablis Grand Cru.
Low-End Chablis (under $20)
There are also Chablis bottles priced at less than $20 per bottle. In my research, many of these bottles do not come from Chablis, France. Given that confusion, avoiding “Chablis” at the bottom of the price range is best.
Champagne Wine Prices
Champagne wine is historically a higher-priced wine. Searching for a bargain Champagne wine is rarely worth the effort. Let’s look at some examples of Champagne wine prices to illustrate the available options.
Dom Perignon Brut ($200+)
Dom Perignon is a prestigious house in Champagne with global brand recognition. The wine is made exclusively from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wine grapes. This Champagne is often available at higher-quality restaurants.
Louis Roederer Vintage Brut ($90)
With an average wine critic score of 93, Louis Roederer champagne is an excellent option. The wine is well-balanced with fruit flavors, acidity, and bread notes.
Chablis vs Champagne wines: Food Pairings
Pairing food and wine together in your life with wine is a big part of the fun. Food allergies can make this process more challenging, though. Chablis and Chardonnay have a rich relationship between food that goes back to the 19th century, if not earlier.
Champagne food pairings
The following food pairings are generally considered the best by thousands of wine lovers. For additional inspiration, look at food from the wine’s country of origin (i.e., French foods with French wines).
- Pasta dishes (ideally with a cream or mushroom sauce).
- Mushroom based dishes
- Seafood dishes, including lobster
Chablis food pairings
Whether in the Chablis wine district enjoying a fine glass of Cru Chablis or at home, the following pairings are a good bet. While visiting France, look for a food tour where you enjoy some of these dishes.
- Vegetarian pairings
- Cheese pairings (e.g., swiss Cheese, Beaufort, and aged goat cheese go with a glass of Chablis)
Explore your relationship with food and wine by experimenting with different pairings. That’s one of the best ways to find out what you like.
For additional wine pairing tips, check out an online wine magazine like Wine Enthusiast or Decanter for additional ideas.
Chablis and Burgundy: Tips For Visiting
There are two broad ways to visit these wine regions: guided and self-guided. From a wine tourism point of view, the champagne wine region and Chablis both have plenty to offer.
A guided tour is an excellent option for wine tourists with limited time in France or those visiting these areas for the first time. Usually, your guide will be a wine enthusiast who will introduce you to their favourite wine producers. Wine tour organisers can help you with restaurant recommendations, travel between wineries, and logistics.
Visiting vineyards means traveling on country roads, so having local assistance is a great way to save time and avoid frustration.
My wine travel philosophy varies depending on the situation. I’ve had excellent wine travel experiences through cruise ship excursions. For example, I had a great time visiting a winery in Sicily because we had a guide with in-depth wine knowledge.