Kimmeridgian age in Chablis: a geological argument for the social building of a terroir

Situated at the beginning of the 20th century on the territory of the Chablis municipality, delimited according to specialists of the time to plots of “kimmeridgian” origin, the vineyard producing Chablis wines has considerably extended as a result of challenges and internal conflicts. The reference to the Kimmeridgian age progressively lost its sense to finally disappear from delimitation criteria. The geological definition of the Chablis terroir actually appear as an unbiaised pretext hiding political, economical or social issues along with struggles for influence which lasted throughout the 20th century.

In order to shed light on human and social inputs into processes of normalization of terroirs via Appellations of controlled origin, we describe the different historical phases of the definition of the Chablis vineyard. We analyze the contribution of the geological argument put forward in front of judges, and then since 1935, in front of the INAO, while deciphering actor games, which as negociations go, were influential on the Chablis delimitation. We thus show that the input of a geological standard of the Chablis terroir is instrumental for negociations or social stresses within territories between professional syndicates, wine merchants, state agents or scientists, in reaction of economical, administrative or law contexts.
Keywords: Geology Chablis terroir building.

Authors: Éric VINCENT (1), Olivier JACQUET (2)

(1) Institut National de l’Origine et de la Qualité,16 rue du golf 21800 Quetigny
(2) Chaire UNESCO « Culture et traditions du vin » de l’Université de Bourgogne. Institut Jules Guyot, Université de Bourgogne BP 27877 21078 DIJON CEDEX

Email: e.vincent@inao.gouv.fr

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