I recently tasted through half a case of Chablis, with more notes to follow, but for now some interesting facts worth sharing.
In 1955, before the advent of mechanization in the vineyards, there were only some 700 hectares of vineyards in Chablis. Today there are more than 5,100 hectares, about 12,500 acres from which some 38 million bottles of Chablis are produced.
Historically, the US has been an important export market for Chablis, though exports to Japan have been something on the order of 35% higher than exports to the US. In fact, Germany, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands have all historically been more important than the USA in terms of Chablis consumption.
Chablis is the way it is primarily due to its moderate climate and the fossil-rich Kimmeridgian soil. Both influences tend to develop crispness and focus in wine. You can also find Kimmeridgian soils in Champagne, Burgundy, and Kimmeridge, England, where the soils were first discovered.
The appellation system for Chablis allows for four distinct sub-appellations: Petite Chablis, Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru, and Chablis Grand Cru. Only 2% of Chablis is Grand Cru, and 15% is Premier Cru, which explains the premium they can commend, but a full 66% of Chablis is just plain old Chablis, meaning there's a lot of wine in the value category out there.