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In This Issue

Chablis: True or false?
La Chablisienne 1999 "Le Chablis" Premier Cru
California Wine Club: Join now, earn a FREE bottle of wine!
Bordeaux trip filled; other opportunities open
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

Chablis: True or false?

Are you old enough to remember the days when asking for "Chablis" - in much of the United States at least - would get you a glass of inexpensive domestic white wine?

Looking back on it now, it's hard to believe that, as recently as the 1970s, relatively few Americans had discovered the joys of fine wine, and for many people and most mass-market wine producers, the fine old French names "Chablis" and "Burgundy" stood in as generic terms for white wine and red. (You may also recall "Rhine" as the label for slightly sweeter whites, and "Sauterne" - without the final "s" - for those sweeter still.)

What a difference a generation makes! Nowadays, only a few unrepentant producers at the low end of the market still make jug wines with the old French names (except for "Champagne," which is a separate story all by itself). In fact, the European Union and most other wine-producing nations have agreed to ban such use by law and treaty (a treaty that the U.S., under pressure from a few large wineries, declines to ratify).

As more of us became more conscious of quality wine in the 1980s and thereafter, most producers switched over to "varietal" labeling, using the wine's grape variety to identify it. It didn't take long for "Chardonnay" to supplant "Chablis" as the most popular white wine; and now just about all of us know the major varieties and have a good grasp on what to expect when we call for just about any variety from Aligote to Zinfandel.

And the real Chablis - the genuine article from the French region of the same name, made from Chardonnay grapes and boasting luscious apple aromas and a steely, bone-dry flavor that seems to speak of the chalky soil in which it is grown - has regained its reputation among wine enthusiasts who now know the difference.

Whether you choose the basic Chablis or the Premier Cru and Grand Cru bottlings from designated vineyards in specific sub-regions with a long history of high quality, you can count on getting a wine that expresses all that the grape and the land have to offer. But you won't get it for jug-wine prices.

Today's tasting, a Premier Cru produced by the Chablis region's large cooperative, offers a good example of the type.

For more information about Chablis in English, browse to the appellation search page of B.I.V.B., the Bureau Interprofessionel des Vins de Bourogne
and enter "Chablis" into the search form.

For a peek at one U.S. producer who still uses the old generic term, check out

La Chablisienne La Chablisienne 1999 "Le Chablis" Premier Cru ($19.99)

Very pale golden-straw color, with a rich scent of ripe apples and hints of wool and spice. Full and round flavor, white fruit borne by the steely acidity that typifies Chablis. Very fine wine, will likely gain complexity with a few years of age in the bottle. U.S. importer: Monsieur Henri Wine Co., New Orleans. (Aug. 23, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's body, fruit and acid made it a natural partner with crab cakes.

VALUE: The $20 price, though moving out of everyday range, is appropriate for a Chablis Premier Cru.

WEB LINK: The La Chablisienne cooperative has a Website at
It is in French only and "under construction," offering only an online form seeking opinions on what topics readers would like to see on the site.

California Wine Club:
Join now, earn a FREE bottle of wine!

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ABOUT THAT FREE BOTTLE: Mention the 30 Second Wine Advisor and they'll include a FREE bottle of wine in your first shipment. Wine shipping available in the U.S. wherever the law permits.

Bordeaux trip filled; other opportunities open

If you were considering joining our wine tour of Bordeaux with French Wine Explorers next May 11-17, I regret to have to tell you that the tour has now filled.

The good news, however, is that my friends Lauriann Green and Jean-Pierre Sollin will lead a similar seven-day, six-night tour of Bordeaux, featuring the same itinerary, next July 20-26.

French Wine Explorers has many other wine tours of France coming up from next April through November, featuring Cooking and Wine in Provence; two Best of Bordeaux tours; the Southern Rhone Valley and Provence; Burgundy and the Northern Rhone; Paris, Champagne and the Loire; a Burgundy and Champagne Luxury Tour, and the Beaujolais Nouveau Celebrations 2003.

Lauriann and Jean-Pierre are certified sommeliers-conseils and experienced tour leaders with extensive knowledge of France and its wines. Their tours, like the Rhone and Provence tour that I joined with them to lead this past June, are designed for wine lovers and offer a remarkable combination of tastings, wine education, delicious meals at restaurants that typify the foods of their region, with first-class accommodations. I recommend them and their tours highly.

For more information about all their wine tours, visit the French Wine Explorers Website,
or contact info@wine-tours-france.com by E-mail.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

We're moving gradually back toward daily publication, with two Wine Advisor issues and one FoodLetter per week for now. Here's the index:

Wine vocabulary: Rustic (Aug. 21)

Red wine with ... (Aug. 19)

Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Asparagus risotto (Aug. 22)

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:


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Monday, Aug. 26, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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