Day Six, Final Stop: Domaine de Chevalier

I was very much looking forward to visiting this next estate.  At this point, Christina was probably getting tired of hearing me talk about how great their wines are – especially their whites.

Domaine de Chevalier was ranked as a Grand Cru Classe for both red and white wine in the classification of Graves wine in 1953 and 1959.  The Chateau is owned by the Bernard Family and is run by Olivier Bernard, whose family bought the estate in 1983 and totally renovated it.  The particular site for the estate is unusual in Bordeaux, in that it is surrounded by pine forests, which makes this site cooler than most of the surrounding areas.  This coolness in the vineyard, while more prone to damaging frost, gives the red and white wines a crisp freshness to their character.

One of Olivier’s sons, Adrien, works mainly in Shanghai, China, promoting their wines throughout Asia for 7 months of the year.  We were fortunate enough to catch Adrien while he was back in Bordeaux, so he gave us the tour of the estate that afternoon.  They had just dipped a toe into harvest that morning, and were constantly assessing the state of the grapes at this point.

Domaine de Chevalier.
Domaine de Chevalier.
The grapes at near harvest.  The estate had begun to pick some fruit that morning.
The grapes at near harvest. The estate had begun to pick some fruit that morning.

Domaine de Chevalier is a beautiful limestone estate that was rebuilt and expanded once the Bernard family purchased it.  The main vat room is a big circular room with the stainless steel vats along the outside wall and a large oculus window in the center of the domed ceiling.  The estate uses both concrete and stainless steel vats that are wider than they are tall, this is to increase the amount of contact the juice has with the skins that float up to the top, which is called the cap.  All of the different vineyard lots from the estate are vinified separately.  The estate is also experimenting with fermenting in a very large wooden egg (approx. 8 feet tall including stand), which commanded attention  as we toured.

The occulus vat room with a window at the top.
The stainless steel vat room with a window at the top.
The concrete vats.
The concrete vats.
The egg.  A bad picture, but hopefully a good experiment for the estate.
The egg. A bad picture, but hopefully a good experiment for the estate.

Domaine de Chevalier uses less new French oak than most Chateau in Bordeaux.  The estate ages their red wine in 50% new French oak barrels for approximately 18 months depending on the vintage.  The white wine is aged on its lees in 30% new French oak barrels, also for approximately 18 months, depending on the vintage and sugar levels.  The estate uses Stephane Derenoncourt and Denis Dubourdieu as consulting oenologists.

Bordeaux 2013 2852

Bordeaux 2013 2855

2007 Domaine de Chevalier (Rouge) – Very floral red fruit and spice on the nose, in the mouth sweet red and black fruit, bright acids, good minerality and fine tannins, medium-full bodied, long sweet fruit finish.  A very nice traditional Bordeaux style wine.

2012 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc – Very bright and floral white orchard fruit, with a touch of stony minerality on the nose.  In the mouth, sweet white peach and melon, bright acidity and some stony pebbles, with a nice long melon and lemony mineral finish.  This is a beautiful 2012 white Bordeaux.

An old cellar room, converted into an event space.
An old cellar room, converted into an event space.
Adrien uncovering a few treasures in the cellar.
Adrien pointed out a few treasures in the cellar while he told us about a recent party at the estate.

Domaine de Chevalier makes some very nice red and white wines that age very well.  The estate produces about 100,000 bottles of red wine and 18,000 bottles of white wine.  Even though the estate produces more red than white wine, they are probably best known for their dry white wine.  The estate produces one of the best dry white wines in all of Bordeaux, which will age for decades.  Both the red and white wines from Domaine de Chevalier are wines to look out for.  They are really nice Bordeaux wines that are still very reasonably price for the quality that you get in the bottle.  I very much look forward to drinking more of their red and white wines in the future.

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