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Chablis

Located in the Yonne départment and classed as part of the wider Burgundy appellation, Chablis is actually equidistant between Paris and Beaune. The undulating vineyards lie on the slopes of the valley of the Serein, a small river flowing through the Yonne. The Chablis region lies on the eastern edge of the Paris Basin with soils dating back to the Upper Jurassic period over 180 million years ago. The most distinctive soil is known as argilo-calcaire, a type of Kimmeridge clay also found across the English Channel in Dorset, and it is a combination of limestone, clay and tiny fossilised oyster shells. All of the premier and grand cru vineyards of Chablis are planted primarily on Kimmeridgean soil and this imparts a distinctively mineral, flinty note to the wines. Other areas, including the vast majority of the Petit Chablis vineyards, are planted on slightly younger Portlandian soil - a limestone-based soil of similar structure.

Chardonnay has a predilection for limestone-clay soils like those found in Chablis, and it gives wines of such elegance and finesse that nowhere else in the world can compare. It is not surprising, therefore, that Chardonnay is the only grape variety permitted in the appellation.

Covering an area of 6,830 hectares, the Chablis appellation is divided into four classifications:

1. Petit Chablis - vineyards generally lie on flatter land, covering an area of 1,562 hectares.

2. Chablis - vineyards lie on both flatter ground and on slopes with a northeast exposure, covering an area of 4,420 hectares.

3. Chablis Premier Cru - the vineyards sit on slopes facing south-east, and the total vineyard area is 745 hectares divided into 79 named vineyards. The best known of these are: Mont-De-Milieu, Montée-De-Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaillons, Montmains, Vaucoupins and Côte De Léchet.

4. Chablis Grand Cru - an appellation of just 103 hectares divided into seven adjoining vineyards on the slopes of the right bank of the River Serein: Blanchot, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudésirs. The top tier of quality in Chablis.

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