The SOMM Journal

August / September 2015

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Page 36 of 132

36 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 { appellations } OYSTER SHELLS. LIMESTONE SHAVINGS. CHALK. GUNPOWDER and flint. Not exactly the sort of elemental prose that provokes a palate- salivating urge to pop the cork from a bottle of Chardonnay. Unless, of course, we are talking Chablis. In the vast sea of wine, few deviate more from varietal character and come as close to defining—or is that proving?—the nebulous notion of minerality, as Chablis. True, Chablis is Chardonnay. And Chardonnay is Chablis. Yet Chablis and Chardonnay have as much in common as a pearl and an oyster shell: Each is composed of fine crystalline layers of calcium carbonate, but only one is a precious gem. While many divine examples of terroir-driven, complex and delicious Chardonnay exist, Chablis remains an inimitable island that challenges—and often defies—currents of trend and concepts of style. With its iridescent luster and inexplicable yet distinctive layers of citrus, salty seashell and chalky flavors—particularly in wines produced from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyard sites—great Chablis epitomizes the essence of minerality. And just what is minerality? A contemplative and sometimes conten - tious topic, indeed—one that transcends yet borrows from logic, science, poetry, myth and romance. Skeptics scorn it as a fanciful descriptor to compensate for a deficiency of fruit or other easily discernible aromas and flavors. Advocates will argue that scientific studies are inconclusive. Many winemakers swear it's real. "Minerality is not a myth," says Louis Moreau, the sixth-generation vintner at Domaine Louis Moreau, an estate encompassing 52 hectares (114.4 acres), with three Premier Cru and five Grand Cru plots, in the heart of Chablis. "Minerality is an abstract sensory description, a bond Pearls of Wisdom from an Ancient Terroir Local Chablis expert and guide Eric Szablowski with a selection of Chablis wines. EXPLORING THE CHARACTERISTIC MINERALITY OF CHABLIS by Cliff Rames / photos by Lana Bortolot

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