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Le vignoble Les vins Le savoir-faire Les foires & salons La lettre mensuelle Les médailles La famille Lamblin Les coordonnées

 


History of Chablis

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Portes de Chablis

Once upon a time 16 centurie ago, the roman emperor Probus sipped a glass of Chablis wine.Traces of village life from Neolithic times have been found in the area now called Chablis. The Romans invaved the region in the third century and, as we know, the Romans never went anywhere without a few vines in their bagage.

The first written mention of Chablis dates to 510. Sigismond, the first Christian king of the Burgondes, built a monastery there, and in the early ninth century? This is where Charlemagne built the Sainte Marie church. Not to many years later, monks from Tours fled form invaving Vikings and settled in nearby Auxerre. This assured the success and the development of Chablis wines, for their religious ceremonies, it was also indispensable for preserving the gracious hospitality of their abbey. Before settling, they always surveyed their surroundings for wine-growing possibilities, and when the stopped in Chablis, they were not mistaken. With the port of Auxerre so close, Paris was easily accessible.

In 1118, the abbey of Pontigny (in the Yonne département) was guaranteed the use of 36 arpents (an ancient measure of land which varied with locality, one arpent equalling form 35 to 50 ares, so arpent would be between 31 and 44,5 acres) of vineyard.

By the mid-15th century, registers prove that barriques filled with Chablis were shipped to Picardie, Flandres and England. The wine's popularity grew, as did the village of Chablis. In 1478 France's fifth printing houe was established there ; 50 years later Chablis boasted a population of over 4,000. That was to be their appogee fo generations. Unfortunately, trouble was ahead.

"Black February", it was called in the region. The religious wars of the early 1600s surrounded the village. Chablis was burned, pillaged, devastated by the Huguenots. It took two centuries to restore life and prosperity to the vineyard. Then, again, in all to short a time, vineyards were conquered by phylloxera. Every wine had to be unearthed and replanted with new rooststock.

The "vignerons" of Chablis began again from zero. By the time the "Institut National des Appellations d ' Origine" ( I.N.A.O.) granted Chablis A.O.C. status in 1938, things are getting back to a norma pace.

Then the Second World War erupted. Before the war, about 15,000 hectoliters (over 166,500 cases) of wine were produced annually, but in 1945 only 481 hectoliters (about 5344 standard nine-liter cases) were made.

The first wine festival held in 1949, when production was up to 9'426 hl (104,723 cases), marked the renaissance-literally and figuratively-of Chablis. Average production in the past ten years has been 122,326 hl (135,900 cases), and the popularity of Chablis has expended around the globe, and in more ways than one.

Although imitation is often believed to be the highest form of flattery, Chablis producers are none too pleased with the use of the name "Chablis" on bottles from anywhere outside their own 16,800 acres. As "Chablis" from California and Australia - made with any grapes, white and even red - are finding their way to wine lists Tokyo to Trafalgar Square, those who make true Chablis are taking a stand. This is their battle, and though it may not be as serious Huguenots, phylloxera or a world war, it is an important one.

Over the past 16 centuries their story has continued, their wine has survived. Connoisseurs appreciate the dedication of the "vignerons" who make crisp-fresh, unique wine from the Chardonnay grape. These producers know they are likely to have severe weather, hail, frost, and cold . They turn this to their advantage, producing uniquely balanced wines : generous fruit with acidity. Wine growers, for generations, have remained hopeful, always looking to a brighter future. And whatever obstacles have been in the way, they have overcome.

 

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