Domaine du Chardonnay was born in 1987 when three wine growers, Etienne Boileau, William Nahan, and Christian Simon, joined forces to create what is now one of the finest domains in Chablis. They began their venture with only 11 hectares of vines (a little more than 24 acres), of which only nine hectares were in production. Fortunately for thirsty consumers the estate has grown over the past two decades to 37 hectares (nearly 82 acres), including choice holdings in Petit Chablis, Chablis, and five Premier Crus: Montée de Tonnerre, Montmains, Mont de Milieu, Vaugiraut, and Vaillons.
Although the wines of Domaine du Chardonnay have been heralded since the estate's inception, the huge investment the partners made in new winery equipment in 1993 has allowed winemaker Etienne Boileau to work his magic. In the past fifteen years, Domaine du Chardonnay has coveted an extensive array of gold medals, with its hillside A.O.C Chablis garnering more than its fair share of top honors. This month's feature, the 2005 Domaine du Chardonnay, won gold at France's most prestigious wine competition, the Concours Génerale Agricole de Paris. We trust you will enjoy this superb Chablis as much as our tasting panels and the Concours' illustrious judges.
Chablis is a distinct part of Burgundy as well as one of the world's finest white wines. Since the 12th century, when Cistercian monks introduced Chardonnay into the region, the name Chablis has been synonymous with outstanding white wine. No wonder so many generations of California producers tacked the name Chablis onto their inferior generic wares, hoping to elevate their wines in the eyes of consumers.
Today, all authentic Chablis are derived exclusively from Chardonnay grapes that are grown in Chablis' chalky, limestone-rich soil known as Kimmeridgian. The name Kimmeridgian is in reference to an identical landmass that scientists identified in England's Kimmeridge Bay. Chablis possesses one of the world's greatest terroirs for the cultivation of white grapes; the appellation (A.O.C.) sits upon what was once the floor of an ancient sea bed dating from the Second Jurassic Period (also known as Kimmeridgian) that now feeds the region's Chardonnay vines. Because of this special terroir, Chablis yields unique, dry, mineral rich wines of considerable finesse and flavor.
The French National Institute of Appellation d'Origine Controlée (A.O.C.) recognizes four distinct areas of Chablis: Petit Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru. All offer the taster a special experience. However, in recent years, it is the Chablis appellation itself that has come to fore, producing some of the region's finest quality and value. In total all four districts of Chablis cover just 7,000 hectares (15,400 acres). The best parcels typically occupy the region's hillsides, making such choice parcels in Chablis and the surrounding Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards the most apt to produce the region's fullest, most complex wines.