On my most recent Bordeaux trip, visiting countless grand chateaux (and some not so grand) Domaine de Chevalier stood out for me. Chevalier means knight in French and the estate lives up to its name. The Chateau’s history can be traced back to the 1600’s and the themes of chivalric elegance and grandeur are very much still alive today however without any of the pomposity.
The tone is set as soon as you cross the threshold into the Chateau. You enter into a very homely living room. It is family-owned and feels like it. The fire was lit. The rooms are tastefully furnished like an old country house; not intended to impress or intimidate but welcome. Here, they let the wine talk for itself.
We were greeted by Olivier Bernard himself, who has been running the Chateau since the age of 23. He has done a remarkable job ever since. Domaine de Chevalier is a Pessac Super Star. It is at the highest elevation in the appellation with some of the best terroir but Olivier has not rested on his laurels. He oversaw an ambitious replanting programme from 1988 which is paying dividends. He is constantly modernising the winery and farms with bio-dynamic principles.
Domaine de Chevalier makes 5 wines, all of which reflect their class and welcoming nature. The Grand Vin is made in both a Rouge and Blanc, and there are second wines for both of them; L'Esprit de Chevalier. Finally there is the relative new-comer, Rose de Chevalier (only running since 2010). The Domaine de Chevalier Red 2017 was so soft and well-rounded it was very approachable for such a young, serious Bordeaux, sporting a superb, long finish.
“Domaine de Chevalier makes 5 wines, all of which reflect their class and welcoming nature”
The Domaine de Chevalier Grand Vin Rouge 2017 was so soft and well-rounded it was very approachable for such a young, serious Bordeaux; sporting a superb, long finish. The Grand Vin Blanc 2017 was really well-balanced with lots of freshness but kept in check with the fruit, wonderfully elegant and far from overpowering.
The Espirit de Chevalier Rouge had a beautiful nose and a slightly lighter body but all the structure and sophistication of the Grand Vin. The Espirit de Chevalier Blanc was surprisingly elegant making this white Bordeaux, not always widely popular, much more approachable. This was the first time I had tasted the Rose. As with the rest of the range it is well made and balanced with gentle fruit and a nice pale colour. This would turn the heads of the many fans of super-trendy Provençal Rosés.
Overall the wines are hugely impressive across the range. Classy, elegant and clearly very well made. There is not the power of Pomerol or austerity of some of the Left Bank. Most top Bordeaux Chateau only have to contend with one or two red wines. So to consistently make such a broad range of excellent wine is a testament to real wine making talent here that few in the region repeat.
With this all said and on the table, some of the wine really is fantastic, and in some places, growers took advantage of their local micro-climates to produce wines that match or equal recent efforts. Comparisons to 2015 and 2016 for the regions as a whole are a bit far fetched in our mind, but what you have with 2017 is reliable consistency from the best producers, and some truly outstanding wines.
Domaine de Chevalier will be joining us at our 2017 En Primeur tasting next month in London. If you're in the city on the 16th of May, be sure to stop by and taste one of my favourite wines of 2017.
Tickets and details are available here.