Saint-Bris is a tiny appellation (103 ha.) just southeast of Chablis that produces one of Burgundy’s most interesting wines, Sauvignon de Saint-Bris. The town was granted appellation controlee in 1995, but it is only recently that its wines have been imported to the U.S. Sauvignon de Saint-Bris are made 100% from Sauvignon Blanc, a grape no other appellation in Burgundy is permitted to grow. Sauvignon Blanc vines do seem out of place in a region renowned for its Chardonnay based wines, but the Loire valley is only 80 miles away to the east. James Wilson in his book Terroir, includes Chablis and Saint-Bris in “The Kimmeridgian Chain,” a group of appellations that all have a soil consisting of Upper Jurassic limestone. Sauvignon Blanc is the predominate grape of these regions, which include Reuilly, Quincy, Menetou-Salon, Sancerre, and Pouilly-sur-Loire. Chablis is the only one in the group whose wines are made using a different grape variety.
The soil of Chablis and Saint-Bris closely resemble that of the Loire and would seem to be a good match for Sauvignon Blanc. While Sauvignon de Saint-Bris can strongly resemble the wines of the Loire, they are not as perfumed or intense as the best from that region. On the other hand, Chablis is blessed with world class vineyards and might be capable of producing Savuvignon wines that rival the best from the Loire. The possibility is intriguing, but I doubt that Chablis made from Sauvignon Blanc would be the equal of the great Chardonnay wines made there today. Even at their best, Loire Sauvignon Blanc wines do not possess the depth or complexity of their counterparts in Chablis. However, it would be fascinating if one of Chablis’ elite producers secretly planted some Sauvingnon Blanc. Grapes grown in great sites like Les Clos might produce very nice Sauvignon de Chablis.