Are you looking for a refreshing wine to enjoy during hot summers? Petit Chablis is a great choice. Petit Chablis is a type of white wine from the Chablis wine-growing region of Burgundy, France. Since Burgundy is a cooler climate, you will have a chance to experience a lean white wine that pairs well with lighter meals.
To enjoy this Burgundy style of winemaking, serving temperature is essential. To attain the ideal serving temperature of 8-10 °C (46-50 F), putting the wine into cold temperatures offered by your refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before serving is a great idea.
1) What Is a Petit Chablis?
Petit Chablis is a wine region in France first established in 1944 known for dry white wines from the Chardonnay grape. The appellation is often compared with nearby wine appellations like standard Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru, and Chablis Premier Cru. Geographically, Petit Chablis is located in Burgundy in the east of France.
Want to see a review of a 2018 Petit Chablis? Check out my “Wine Quest 3: Bouchard Pere & Fils Petit Chablis (Burgundy, France)” post.
2) What does Petit Chablis taste like?
In general terms, a petit Chablis is light with balanced acidity. Expect to enjoy peach aromas and citrus notes from the class. Petit Chablis is made to be enjoyed young, so drink the wine within two years following harvest to fully enjoy the dry taste. Beyond fruit, Chablis will also bring a mineral base like flint. In terms of appearance, a Chablis often has a greenish tinge in appearance.
Curious to see how differences in soil impact what you taste in the glass? Then I would suggest setting up a wine tasting with a few different bottles: one bottle from the Chablis appellation and another bottle from the petit Chablis appellation. You may discover how different soil types (e.g., Kimmeridgian soils vs. Portlandian Limestone Soils include these remarkable French wines.
3) What does Chablis pair with?
You have multiple choices when it comes to pairing food with Chablis. Start by choosing fresh seafood since the salty aspect of fish is generally a good match. In terms of food preparation, choose a food with a light level of seasoning (e.g., fresh herbs and pepper). Keep your cayenne pepper in the cupboard when pairing food with Chablis!
If you pair Chablis with overly solid or spicy food, the delicate wine will suffer, and you will not get the chance to experience what the Chablis wine-growing district has to offer. If you are hosting a dinner party with multiple courses, serving petit Chablis as a first course with a salad or light seafood dish makes sense.
4) Is Petit Chablis better than Chablis?
First of all, it is a myth that petit Chablis is somehow lower quality than Chablis. It depends on what you like! Both Petit Chablis and Chablis are recognized as top wine regions. If you generally like chardonnay and dry white wines, you will likely enjoy both Chablis and Petit Chablis (also, make sure you know which white wines are dry). From a winemaking perspective, these two wine areas are grown in slightly different soil types. Generally, petit Chablis is grown in recent limestone soil (i.e., Portlandian Limestone soils), while Chablis is grown in much older limestone soil. Both wines tend to be fermented in stainless steel tanks, so don’t expect an oak barrel influence common in a California chardonnay.
By fermenting the wine in a steel tank, the accessible minerality quality of the wine is clear. While oak aging is traditional in many areas, producing a wine in a steel tank does not mean a lesser commitment to quality.
5) What is the difference between Chablis and Chardonnay?
The difference is simple: Chablis is a place in France while Chardonnay is a wine grape grown across the world, including French wines, American wines, and many other places. To qualify for the label “Chablis,” French wines have to be made from 100% chardonnay wine grapes. That can lead to these complex wines becoming expensive wines, but there are still accessible wines available for people on a budget.
A chardonnay wine could be made anywhere in the world. I happen to love the rich Chardonnays from California. However, there is something refreshing and delightful to be said for a petit Chablis, especially in the hot summer months.
When it comes to looking at the wine label for a French wine, expect to see “Chablis,” but you might not see “chardonnay.” That’s because French wines usually emphasize a specific geographical location (also known as an “appellation”) on the label rather than the grape variety.
Learn More About French Wines
After tasting the Petit Chablis, you might be in the mood for something completely different. In that case, take an afternoon to learn about French wines. Short of booking a wine travel-themed trip, the next best choice is an audio course I recently reviewed: The Everyday Guide to Wines of France. For less than $10, you can learn everything you need to know to enjoy French wines (including terms like the grand cru or grand wine category) more deeply.