© BIVB / PETIT J.C.
Petit Chablis is an appellation for white Chardonnay-based wines produced in Chablis and the surrounding communes. The appellation was created in 1944 to cover those wines not included in the standard Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru titles.
The key difference between Petit Chablis and its more prestigious brothers is found in the soil where the vines are grown. While the more respected wines come from vineyards with Kimmeridgian soils, Petit Chablis is produced from vineyards planted in Portlandian soils. The difference between the two soil types may seem negligible, but the subtle balance of clay and limestone is essential to the wine-growers of Chablis.
Due to the topography and geology of the Chablis area, Portlandian soils are most commonly found on higher ground; subsequently, most Petit Chablis sites are located on plateaux above slopes classified as Premier or Grand Cru. The most obvious example of this is the plateau directly west of Chablis town, immediately above the Grand Cru slopes. Here, the difference between the most- and least-prestigious Chablis vineyards is governed by the smallest of distances.