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France, Chablis

Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More-so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.

Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.

Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)

The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
Located in the northern region of Burgundy in France, only a two hour drive southeast from Paris, Chablis is a wine region covering an area of approximately 2,225 hectares.

Like most of France’s oldest wine regions, the Romans were the first to have planted grapevines in Chablis and during the middle ages the Catholic Church too played a big role in building commercial interest in wines from the area. It is believed that chardonnay was first planted in the 12th century and spread throughout the rest of Burgundy from there. Chablis was annexed as a part of Burgundy by the Dukes of Burgundy in the 15th century.

The famous grapevines of Chablis are mostly made up of Chardonnay and because of the cool climate of the area, the wines produced here are usually more acidic and less fruity than those made in warmer climates. The result gives the flinty, dry white wines aromas comprising of nuts, vanilla, butter, lemon, and pear. Unlike most of the other Burgundian white wines which are fermented in a barrel, Chablis winemakers rarely use this method of fermentation in order to keep the oaky flavours at bay. The Chablis vineyards are classified into 4 tiers of quality listed from high to low: Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis and finally Petit Chablis. The wines of Chablis generally see less oak than their Burgundian counterparts and in many cases are fermented in stainless steel.
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