The area called Chablis is the most northern part of the Burgundy region of France. Like most white Burgundy wines, it is made of the Chardonnay grape. Virtually no Chablis wines are aged in oak barrels, and are very true expressions of the cool climate, the limestone soil, as well as the grape itself.
Wines from Chablis have a relatively easy classification (for France). There are 7 prestigious Grand Cru vineyards (Blanchots, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur, and Vaudésir). Below that are Premier Cru vineyards (about ¼ of all vineyards), then simply Chablis, and then the value priced Petit Chablis.
They range in price from around $10 to $120, depending on classification of vineyard and producer. There are only two criteria: a bottle must have the word Chablis on the label (and specific vineyard, if any), and be from France (some domestic producers use the word for white jug wines).
The consensus about these wines was that they were all very good, but also very reserved, and did not show a lot of obvious flavors. This restrained quality of the wines made the tasting a challenge, but everyone was pleased that all of the bottles showed well.
First Place: William Fevre Chablis "Vaillons" Premier Cru 2002. Green apple and pear flavors, with a lightly floral quality, along with a clean white chalk components. Other notes included fresh herbs, hint of vanilla, burnt sugar, and a highly acidic Champagne-like quality. Pleasant, fresh, and lighter in body. David thought it was simple, but good. Sarah and Andy liked this one the most. About $26. David's bottle.
Second Place: Louis Latour Chablis 2002. Vegetal, with a V8 quality, featuring tomato, lime, cucumber, and carrots. Bright acidity, with a slight bitterness to the finish. Tasters described wet stone characteristics, and a persistent, pleasant finish. Ali initially liked this one the least. David' favorite of the tasting. The best value of the group. About $15. Andy's bottle.
Third Place: Jean Dauvissat Chablis "Sechet" Premier Cru 2000. Much riper fruit on the nose, and also the darkest hue. Red apple, nectarine, honeysuckle. Richer in body and perfumed. Ali guessed (correctly) that this was the most expensive bottle. About $29. Sarah's bottle.
Gerard Tremblay Chablis 2001. A bit darker in color, the wine had a musty quality, with flavors of red apple, loam, lavender, smoke, and a metallic tin quality. Not as acidic, but had a persistent finish. Ali's favorite of the tasting. About $18. Ali's bottle.
Louis Latour Chablis 2000. Tasted non-blind as an extra bottle, in order to observe differences in vintage from the 2002 described above. Exhibited the same vegetal, tomato characteristics as the 2002. Concluded that this must be the house style, but we were pretty drunk by this time of the night. About $15. From David's cellar.