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Chablis back on track after a challenging 2021

Published:  19 December, 2022

After a ‘complicated’ year in 2021, Chablis winegrowers are now in the mood to celebrate, with the Chablis Commission declaring an overall healthier and higher-yielding vintage in 2022.

According to Paul Espitalié, president of the Chablis Commission, 2022’s harvest resulted in a much livelier vintage than 2021, as the past few years brought “challenges for winemakers in Chablis with the changing and unpredictable climate”.

In 2022, the yields during harvest were back up to healthier levels and reached close to the maximum allowance. As a result, the commission hopes that the region will be able to build back some of the volumes it has enjoyed in recent years in export markets including the UK, which remains in pole position.

“The UK continues to be our most important export market and we believe a key element to the continuing success of Chablis wines,” Espitalié said, adding that the commission is looking to increase the awareness of the region’s Petit Chablis and Chablis wines among consumers.

“These appellations have just as much to offer the market, particularly in the current financial climate in terms of offering great value wines,” he said.

Wines from the 2022 vintage will soon be released in the UK, where a total of 3.8 million bottles were sold between August 2021 and August 2022.

Chablis also has big ambitions for its future sustainability plans. A total of 17% of Chablis vineyards are now fully organic. Plus, the region is on track to meet the Bourgogne-wide plan of being carbon neutral by 2035. Together, these objectives all form part of a long-term plan to improve conditions both in the vineyard and the longevity of the local industry.

On the topic of climate change, Espitalié said, “We are already considering Chardonnay varieties more resistant to the early frosts we’re seeing, as well as methods such as a propeller ventilating system to help circulate warmer air between the vines, the installation of heated cables, or aspersion (the process of spraying vines with water before a frost, to add a protective layer of ice).

“We believe it’s important to not just look at this year, but look ahead to what the future may hold as climate change continues to impact winemaking. We want to get ahead of potential issues which may arise, as well as be as sustainable as possible to ensure we continue to deliver on quality and quantity for future years.”

Representing a third of white Bourgogne offerings, Chablis is a major net contributor to Burgundy’s total production of white wines. In total, the region exports over 67% of its wares annually and operates across 14,390 acres spread out over 417 maisons and domaines. The region also produces between 35 and 40 million bottles a year, with the focus – as ever – on the purity and minerality of its Chardonnay.