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Chablis needs to tell its terroir story

Having benefitted from the strength of “brand Chablis”, the time has come to tell its terroir story, according to one of the key winemakers in the region.

Grégory Viennois

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent visit to Chablis, Grégory Viennois, technical director at Laroche, said:

“It’s great that Chablis is a strong brand like Champagne, but we’re selling ourselves short in not telling the story of our different terroirs.

“A lot of people think Chablis is a simple, unoaked white wine from Burgundy but at Laroche we’ve been working hard to differentiate the characteristics of the premier and grand cru climats.”

Viennois singled out British and American consumers as being the most switched on to Chablis’ different climats.

“UK consumers know the premier cru climat of Fauchaume but there are a lot of great premier cru sites in Chablis that deserve attention, like Vaillons and Mont de Milieu.

“The wines from Chablis are a lot less expensive than those from the Côtes de Beaune and Côtes de Nuits, so we have a real opportunity to attract new consumers.

“The rest of Burgundy has become so expensive, so consumers in the UK and US are latching on to Chablis, which is great news for us.

“People are starting to take Chablis more seriously as a region for terroir-driven, quality wines so there needs to be more focus on the different vineyards now,” he said.

“Laroche drinkers are becoming increasingly curious about the different climats and have their favourite premier or grand cru they stick to,” he added.

In terms of the quality of the 2014 vintage, Viennois was upbeat. “It will be a great vintage close to 1996 in character with better balance than 2008. The skins got very ripe, so it will be a classic vintage with a good balance between ripeness and acidity and fantastic ageing potential,” he said.

Laroche sells its wines, including seven premier cru and three grand cru examples, to 80 different countries. Since joining Laroche, Viennois has reduced the percentage of sulphites in the wines by around 35%.

Having trialled screwcaps, the estate has reverted back to bottling all of its premier and grand cru wines under cork, with Viennois believing the wines are “more floral, and expressive with better structure” when sealed under cork.

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