Anthony Rose: Heart of steel

I find it hard to say the word chablis without my mouth starting to water. While most chardonnay likes a touch of oak for texture, chablis doesn't need it. In fact its mouthwatering qualities derive from lack of use of oak in all but the grander premier and grand cru manifestations. Why is that? Thanks to a delicacy born of its cool location at the northern tip of Burgundy, chardonnay here reacts like the aromatic grapes of Alsace and Germany, preferring little or no oak to show at its bone dry, tongue-tingling best.

Minerality is a hard term to define but that's what the best chablis is imbued with: a subtle background hint of the oyster-shell-packed Kimmeridgian chalk underlay of its vineyards. The French use of the word terroir to indicate a wine's personality is grossly overused, but few wines display that character more than chablis. As Andrew Jefford says in The New France: "It smells of smoke and stone and winter air; it tastes as quick and fresh as a chill, pebbly stream tumbling off a dark, rain-draped mountain. Do you doubt the influence of soil on wine flavour? If you do, buy yourself a bottle of chablis."

Starting in the supermarket, there's plenty to enjoy in Sainsbury's 2010 Chablis, £9.99, from the consistent Chablisienne Co-operative, a classic case of fruit and stone combining in a tongue-tingling finish. From the brilliant Jean-Marc Brocard, the 2008 Domaine Brocard Chablis, £13.99, Marks & Spencer, has a crème fraîche quality cut by mineral acidity. About as zingy as it gets, the 2011 Chablis La Collégiale from Laroche, £13.99, Majestic, buy two = £11.99, is a glossy chardonnay with a steely bite.

The year 2010 was a terrific vintage for chablis and two favourite producers have excelled. The 2010 William Fèvre Chablis, around £12-£15, Wine Society, Fortnums, Armit, is an appetising style that's all about precision with an incisive cutting edge and nutty finish. So, too, the 2010 Simonnet-Febvre Chablis whose chalky aromas and honeyed opulence carry through to a dry finish, £12.49-£14.99, Handford (020-7589 6113), Partridges (020-7824 9858), Bretby Wine (01283 225029).

In grander premier cru country, the 2010 Damien & Romain Bouchard Chablis Montée de Tonnerre, £27.50, Oxford Wine Co (01865 249500) displays sourdough and crème fraîche notes with a spine of acidity; 2008 Domaine Laroche Vaudevey Premier Cru, £21.50-£21.99, Latitude Wines, Leeds (0113 2453393), The Secret Cellar, Tunbridge Wells (01892 537981), £21.99, with its delicately smoky accent and exotic pineappley whiff shows the chardonnay grape at its purest.

Suggested Topics
News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband