The French are so proud of their wines that they named some of their cities after a grand cru, Oscar Wilde is said to have said. The witticism attributed to the Irish playwright suits Chablis! Nicknamed “the golden gate of Burgundy”, the city of Yonne takes advantage of its Wine Festival to assert its identity. This has its origins in an ancient monastery with an imposing appearance, the Obédiencerie, where our discovery begins.
The first foundations dating from the 9th century saw the birth of the first Chablis wines. Treasure of this centuries-old heritage: the 13th century wine press. According to our guide, there are only three left in the world of this type, and only the one in the “flower city” continues to operate! Currently, the building’s cellars serve as a setting for the aging of the wines of Domaine Laroche, owner of the premises since 1850. In the basement, you can see a niche which would have housed the relics of Saint Martin. These would thus have been protected from pillaging during the Norman invasions, a saga evoked in a short film projected in the press room. Legend or reality? In any case, the Roman legionnaire, who appears on the city’s coat of arms, left his name to the Saint-Martin collegiate church. The religious building also houses the statue of the patron saint of winegrowers, who has helped maintain the tradition since 1966 on the occasion of the rotating Saint-Vincent. This wine festival involves neighboring villages and the next edition will take place in Fyé, on February 3 and 4, 2024.
Let us continue our stroll through the rue Auxerroise, on the route of the Chablisian Piliers parade scheduled for October 22. The brotherhood is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. She will carry out inductions before inviting the audience to sing the famous ban bourguignon by raising their arms and clapping their hands. Wine is also celebrated at The Chablisienne, and this throughout the year. The cooperative owes its birth, just a hundred years ago, to Father Urbain Balitrand, keen to unite winegrowers to defend their interests against merchants.
In the cellar, a virtual tour and access to a library of aromas specific to Chablis, from a single grape variety: Chardonnay, are offered. A sensory approach to complete by going to the City of Burgundy climates and wines. Open for a few months on the site of the former 12th century Petit-Pontigny cellar, the place echoes the work of the Cistercian monks, who were able to reveal the specificity of the “climates” (linked to the plots) of the terroir. All that remains is to venture near the vineyards. After taking the Christmas doorThen Mirau d’Aval towerlast vestiges of the city’s fortifications, let’s cross the river, Le Serein, to finish this outing with a marked hike of 4 or 6 km (two variants) on the hill of the Grands Crus!