What does Chablis Premier Cru mean?
Chablis Premier Cru is an appellation that comprises hillside vineyards located on both banks of the Serein, the river that runs through the Chablis vineyards.
Location and surface area of the Chablis Premier Cru vineyard
An illustrious reference among white Burgundy wines, Chablis has 5 appellations: Petit-Chablis, Chablis Village, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru.
Chablis Premier Cru is an appellation located in the department of Yonne, in Burgundy. This viticultural area includes 40 Climats, with 17 main ones, spread over the communes of Beines, Chablis, La Chapelle Vaupelteigne, Chichée, Courgis, Fleys, Fontenay-Près-Chablis, Fyé, Maligny, Milly and Poinchy.
Representing 14% of the production in 2021, the appellation covers an area of 778 hectares.
What is the history of Chablis Premier Cru?
On 13 January 1938, the Chablis appellation d'origine contrôlée was established. On this same date, a decree listed 7 climats that could be named Chablis Grand Cru (Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Les Grenouilles, Les Preuses, Valmur, Vaudésir), all located on the right bank of the Serein river.
In October 1943, the AOC Chablis Grand Cru was created, then in January 1967, the geographical boundaries of the appellation were defined. They were altered in 1976 and again in 1978, when the INAO (Institut National de l'Origine et de la Qualité) published the list of the 79 climats of the appellation, including 17 main climats.
According to the decree of October 2009, 89 "lieux-dits" located on either side of the Serein river can claim to be classified as Chablis Premier Cru.
What is the difference between the appellations Chablis Premier Cru, Chablis Village and Chablis Grand Cru?
Comprising a surface area of 778 hectares, Chablis Premier Cru owes its uniqueness to its terroir which benefits from an array of exposures, due to its location at an altitude of between 150 and 190 metres.
The Chablis Village appellation is a particularly extensive wine-growing area, covering 3,630 hectares on both sides of the Serein river, spread over all the communes in the appellation.
Representing 1% of the total production of the appellation, Chablis Grand Cru watches over a 107-hectare terroir located exclusively on the right bank of the Serein. The vineyards face south-east and are located at an altitude of between 130 and 250 metres.
Chablis Premier Cru: 40 climats including 17 flagship wines
The Chablis Premier Cru appellation has 40 "climats". This typically Burgundian term designates a well-defined plot of land with its own geological and climatic specificities.
Of these 40 climats, 17 are main ones, also called "porte-drapeaux" meaning a flag-bearer. This name refers to a wine produced in a climat whose geographical proximity to one of the "porte-drapeau" climats allows it to use the name of its parent climat on the label.
Among these climats, the most famous are:
Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume white wines
Chablis 1er Cru Vaulorent white wines
Chablis 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre white wines
Chablis 1er Cru Mont du Milieu white wines
Chablis 1er Cru Vau de Vey white wines
Chablis 1er Cru Vaucopains white wines
Half of the climats in this AOC have had the same name since 1429.
All there is to know about the Chablis Premier Cru terroir
Location and exposure
Located in the northernmost part of Burgundy, Chablis Premier Cru is a wine-growing area that is delimited by 11 communes.
The vineyards of the appellation are spread over the right and left banks of the Serein, which crosses the vineyard from north to south. Among this mosaic of terroirs, the most qualitative vineyards are located on the right bank of the river, near the Grands Crus.
Geology: a singularity at the origin of fine white wines
The Chablis terroir owes its uniqueness to its geology, which originated over 150 million years ago, when Chablis was a vast inland sea. The subsoil is made up of grey marl, a mixture of clay and calcite, alternating with limestone banks, rich in fossils, including the famous little comma-shaped oyster, Ostrea Virgula.
Climat: vines enjoying a semi-continental influence
The Chablis Premier Cru appellation is located in a region of Burgundy with a semi-continental climate, with long, harsh winters and hot, dry summers.
The style of Chablis Premier Cru wines
Profile of the wines
When tasted, these white wines exude both the typicality of the many terroirs that make up the appellation and the aromatic nuances of the king grape variety, Chardonnay.
Refined and well-structured, these delicately golden-coloured white Burgundy wines seduce with their delicious floral aromas, their suave minerality and their generosity.
Ageing potential of the wines
A minimum of 5 to 10 years of ageing is recommended to enable a Chablis Premier Cru wine to express its full potential.
Food and wine pairing
The aromatic complexity of a Chablis Premier Cru white wine makes it an ideal match for many dishes, such as warm oysters or fish served with a sauce. Wines with a beautiful minerality are refined pairings for poultry or veal served with a white sauce. Although the intense aromatic expression of Chardonnay sublimates andouillettes or snails, a Chablis Premier Cru with a bold structure will complement ham with a Chablis wine sauce, a famous local speciality.
The appellation's famous producers
The freshness of Domaine Billaud-Simon wines
An illustrious reference in Chablis, the Billaud-Simon estate watches over 4 Premiers Crus (Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu and Les Vaillons), producing white wines that exude the freshness, balance and precision of the Chardonnay varietal.
The finesse and expression of fine white wines by William Fèvre
Lys, Montée de Tonnerre, Montmains, Vaillons, Vaulorent... the William Fèvre estate harmoniously expresses the identity of these five emblematic climats through exceptional wines.
La Chablisienne, the interpretation of fine terroirs
As one of the most important producers of Chablis, La Chablisienne produces Chablis Premier Cru wines that are renowned for their finesse, from the Côte de Lechet, Fourchaume, Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Montmains and Vaulorent vineyards.
The quality of Chablis Premier Cru white wines recognised by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
From the 1980s onwards, Robert Parker became one of the most influential international critics.
Founded in 1979 by Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate is a publication designed to reveal his ratings.
Here are some of the scores of the First Growth white wines tasted by Robert Parker and his team of experienced wine tasters:
Robert Parker gives La Chablisienne a score of 92+ for its 2017 Chablis Premier Cru Montmains white wine.
Domaine William Fèvre receives a score of 93+ by Robert Parker for its Chablis Premier Cru "Les Lys" 2019 and Chablis Premier Cru "Montée de Tonnerre" 2018 and 94+ for the white Premier Cru "Vaulorent" 2019.