With reference to a tasting note in our “Tasting Notes Explained” section
There is nothing worse than paying out good money for poor wine, especially when it’s your own money.
I had the recent pleasure of two bottles of Chablis one a modest sub €15 offering and the other a rather painful €26 punt. I have always questioned this region for its inconsistencies and it has always answered me with its climatic variations. I have forced down mediocre and sometimes unpleasant Chablis, the only real satisfaction of it was impressing a local wine snob while dumping the empties at the bottle bank.
These two wines were from the credible ‘05 and ‘06 vintages. Now both were very decent wines, the cheaper one a touch acidic for my liking. A second glass was mouth-puckering and as a painful tear made its way down my cheek; a tad too lively for my oesophagus.
In my tasting book I entered a typical note with “steely”, “lean”, “elegant” and “classic”. Afterwards I thought about it. If I hadn’t seen the label I would have written harsh, green and weak.
Today there are hundreds of Chardonnays new and old world that could stand toe to toe with these two and cost me less than 60% of what I had paid.
Why are we so fixated with this region that could now be considered a brand? Why is Chablis a must for every wine list in this value conscious age? Yes, Chablis produces some stunning wines but it also produces a lot of ordinary wine-ordinary overpriced wine, yet people still order the Chablis without a glance at producer or vintage, the very aspect the Chablis producers themselves use to explain away their poorer wines.
They have done an excellent job at marketing their region based on the AC system and I have no problem with that. What I do not like is being expected to pay the inflated prices for basic wines.
I suspect that in the boom times a lot of Chablis was ordered to impress. Let’s hope that these tighter times will bring some reality to people’s aspirations and some encouragement to seek out the fairer chardonnays of other regions and countries.