The winemaker’s role is to reflect the best the terroir has to offer and to reproduce the intrinsic taste parameters that correspond to Domaine de Chevalier.
Olivier Bernard describes Domaine de Chevalier’s white wines: “Our aim is not to make the wine as fruity as possible at all costs. Measured extraction and barrel ageing create very complex wines – beautifully fresh, never heavy, and with an incredibly long aftertaste that “unfolds like a peacock’s tail”... We target the long term and make a great wine that needs time to reveal its full potential.”
Thomas Stonestreet confirms that “Domaine de Chevalier blanc is an incredibly complex wine, that can age for many years ... It features much more than just fruitiness. It also very velvety, rich, and concentrated...”
Rémi Edange has much to say about the wine’s bouquet: “An incredibly complex nose... Above and beyond the varietal aromas there are empyreumatic overtones of resin, smoke, liquorice, coffee, and even, in certain vintages, cedar and Havana cigars... With regard to the fruit, Domaine de Chevalier often shows quince as well as peach, apricot, pineapple, tropical fruit (lychees), and citrus. In older vintages, the bouquet is reminiscent of a fine Sauternes. As if this were not enough, there are also floral overtones of vine flowers, herb teas (lime-blossom, verbena), etc...”
Olivier Bernard has this to say about his red wines: “Domaine de Chevalier rouge has good structure and a great deal of finesse, complexity, and ageing potential – which does not exclude a smooth, fruity quality that makes it enjoyable in its youth. Always balanced, never aggressive, power is by no means the priority...”
Rémi Edange adds: “Chevalier’s red wines are well-structured with round, very fine, tight-knit tannin... They are tremendously elegant and distinguished with a very long aftertaste and more delicacy than power...”
2005 will be remembered as an extremely high-quality vintage in Bordeaux. The weather was exceptionally dry from winter on through to a fine spring, a hot, sunny summer (without excessive heat), and into autumn.
Starting in early June, a water deficit contributed to restricting vegetative growth of the vines, thus avoiding excessive transpiration from the leaves. As a result, the vines made economical use of water in the soil and, with a few exceptions, resisted the drought reasonably well.
Furthermore, this summer water deficit stopped vine growth a few days before colour change in most of the Bordeaux vineyards. 2005 provides a perfect illustration of the basic principle of quality viticulture: the grapes are good if the vines stop their annual vegetative growth naturally and permanently just before colour change, i.e. around late July in Bordeaux. On vineyard soils in Bordeaux, this growth stops naturally just as the grapes start ripening in relatively dry summers. However, when spring and summer are wet, the vines continue to produce new shoots throughout the ripening season, wasting the nutrition produced by photosynthesis. This means that the grapes remain acid, with low sugar levels, little colouring matter, and a more herbaceous than fruity character. In such instances, only the driest soils avoid producing a poor vintage.
In 2005, the grapes ripened quite early in all Bordeaux appellations. The dry, sunny weather in September and October precluded any risk of grey rot, so there was no need to hurry picking. The grapes were very sweet, with good acidity, fruity aromas, and, in the case of red grape varieties, particularly deep colour.
This vintage was unusually successful for all grape varieties on both the left and right banks. Furthermore, the white wines were just as excellent. In Bordeaux, it is relatively unusual to have a vintage that is equally good for dry white, red, and great sweet white wines. After very hot summers, the red wines are good, but the dry white wines often lack fruit and freshness, while an excessively dry or damp early autumn is not propitious for botrytised wines. In 2005, the weather was favourable to all three main types of Bordeaux wine.
Yields were unusually high in 2004. Production was much more moderate in 2005. The early water deficit resulted in very small grapes, particularly in Cabernet Sauvignon on gravelly soils. Although the Sauvignon Blanc vines remained very healthy, yields were much lower than average. However, Sémillon production was much less affected by the weather than other grape varieties (which explains the unusually plentiful harvest in Sauternes and Barsac).
Budbreak took place at the normal time, in early April, after a dry, rather cold winter.