DOMAIN DE CHEVALIER -ONE OF THE VERY BEST DRY WHITE WINES IN BORDEAUX AND EXCELLENT RED WINE, THAT'S THE STORY by Izak Litwar
Domaine de Chevalier is situated in the middle of forest area in the outskirt of Léognan town, around 17 km south of Bordeaux city. There are 5 ha of "white" vines planted with 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon, and these are 25 years old on average.
Fermentation (alcoholic) takes place at 15-20°C in individual barrels (without swirling) and lasts for one month. Wine is kept for 18 months in 35% new barrels with occasionally sediment swirling and it is slightly filtrated.
Harvest of "white" grapes goes always on in several rounds and can easily take one month. These grapes need much care – they must not be insufficiently ripe (lack of fruit sweetness) or overripe (lack of acidity).
Between 15 and 20 pickers collect perfectly ripe grapes under severe selection, and they do this in 4-10 rounds. Grapes with brown spots and rotten stalks will of course not pass through this severe selection.
Domaine de Chevalier is undoubtedly among the finest white wines of Bordeaux. Its incredible refinement, nuance-richness, elegance, structure and keeping ability, has made it worthy rival to the best white Burgundy wines.
Domaine de Chevalier enjoys a fantastic reputation among wine-freaks and is one of the very few dry white wines with very long keeping potential. In especially fine vintages, it can easily manage 20-30 years and even longer from its birth date! It takes against you with open arms in the first 3-4 years of its life, then it hibernates for a period of 8-12 years, and afterwards it wakes up to life again.
Vintages 1970-1982 were made by previous owner Claude Ricard, who sold Domaine de Chevalier to Bernard family in 1983. He stayed however at the property until 1988, in order to help and teach young Olivier Bernard art of making white wine. Vintages 1983, 1984 and 1985 were made with increasing influence of Olivier Bernard, and vintage 1986 was the first one Olivier Bernard was involved 100% in. Denis Dubordieu has been consulting oenologist here for many years.
Tasting notes of white Domaine de Chevalier listed below, come mainly from big tasting of 26 vintages in April 2005 while the ones for red have been updated with impressions from vertical of 23 wines tasted at the property in April 2012.
Domaine de Chevalier 2015 (barrel sample) 96p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2016. Consistent notes. As always refined and sophisticated, excellent acidity, complexity and structure. Slightly under 2014 vintage in quality. Still a magnifique wine.
Domaine de Chevalier 2014 (barrel sample) 97p
Tasted four times - last time in April 2016. Consistent notes. For the owner, Olivier Bernard, this vintage reminds him of 2001, which was exceptionel vintage for white Bordeaux. First of all, this wine has strikingly fabulous acidity, fat fruit, exquisite elegance and finesse, richness and sophisticated touch. Has unlimited longevity. Awesome stuff.
Domaine de Chevalier 2013 94p
Tasted three times - last time in April 2016. Consistent notes. Fine aromatic nose of apple and acacia, lush palate with excellent acidity, fine balance, smooth aftertaste. Great complexity and sophisticated touch. Great wine for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2012 94p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. Fine aromatic nose of apple and acacia, lush palate with excellent acidity, fine balance, smooth aftertaste. Great complexity and sophisticated touch. Stunning wine for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2011 96p
Tasted twice - last time in n April 2014. Consistent notes. This wine was strong and powerful, lots of acacia flower, apples and citron grass. Great structure, depth and length on the palate, rich, great balance and strong finish. As always an utterly impressive stuff from this property!
Domaine de Chevalier 2010 97p
Tasted five times - last time in April 2014. Consistent notes. This wine was incredibly aromatic with lemon grass, pear, apple and pineapple, extremely sophisticated, fabulous acidity and depth, long caressing aftertaste. Exceptional showing.
Domaine de Chevalier 2009 (barrel sample) 95p
Tasted five times - last time in April 2011. Consistent notes. Extremely flowery nose with pineapple, acacia, citron , lemon and apples, refined, rich, splendid acidity, excellent balance and thrillingly smooth aftertaste. Great elegance and style. Stunning beauty.
Domaine de Chevalier 2008 95p
Tasted nine times - last time in September 2011. Consistent notes. Harvest finished on 3rd October (!!), small yield of 27 hl/ha, 3-4 selections in the vineyard, 75% Sauvignon Blanc + 25% Semillon. Very open, incredibly aromatic with lemon and pineapple, incredibly attractive, tasty and smooth, caressing aftertaste. More minerality and more length here. This was magnificent showing!
Domaine de Chevalier 2007 97p
Tasted eight times - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. 85% Sauvignon Blanc + 15% Semillion. Very, very intense aromas of acacia flower, pear and pineapple on the nose, deep and refined. Exceptionally structured, strikingly fine acidity, very long and deep on the palate, excellent balance and aftertaste. Olivier Bernard believes this one is even better than 2002 vintage (regarded as one of the best white vintages in last 20 years), with better structure, and I agree with him.
Domaine de Chevalier 2006 92p
Tasted four times - last time in March 2009. Consistent notes. Impressed with freshness, splendid collaboration between aromaticly scented fruit (lemon/citrus, pear and peaches) and acidity, many nuances, lovely structure and long aftertaste.
Domaine de Chevalier 2005 97p
Tasted five times - last time in March 2015. Consistent notes. Extremely aromatic and full-bodied with acacia, apple and citrus in large quantities, incredibly refined and sophisticated, multi-dimensional and fabulously structured, and extra large long on the palate. Exceptional wine. Rather closed in March 2015. 95p.
Domaine de Chevalier 2004 94p
Tasted five times - last time in April 2007. Consistent notes. Light yellow. This barrel sample promised well for the future with freshness and elegance, refinement and splendid "team-work" between wine's acidity and fruit sweetness. It will be exciting to see, if it will reach same heights as 2001, when it has some age. This one is to keep 20-25 years horizontally.
Domaine de Chevalier 2003 92p
Tasted in April 2005. Light yellow. It was exotic and very aromatic in the nose with mango, melon and apricot, and possessed great elegance, much finesse and delicious aftertaste. This was an extremely attractive wine, which will satisfy many white wine fans in the next 10-15 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 2002 97p
As in 2001, Sauvignon Blanc reached really perfect maturity and pickers were again enormously happy with these sweetly grapes. But Sémillon also reached perfect maturity, maybe even better than in 2001.
Tasted three times - last time in August 2006. Consistent notes. Straw yellow. It had very intense nose of peach, citrus and apple. On the palate, luscious fruit was in pretty embrace with stunning acidity. This wine offered many nuances, exceptional structure and depth, plus sensational length and sophisticated appearance. It is masterly made and will be incredibly long-lived.
Domaine de Chevalier 2001 96p
Olivier Bernard explained, that for the first time in his carrier as manager for Domaine de Chevalier (since 1983), he saw pickers eating Sauvignon Blanc grapes anno 2001. They do it quite rarely, for this grape variety taste normally rather tart, even if the grapes are ripe. In 2001, these grapes were by the way exceptionally ripe!
Tasted in April 2005. Straw yellow. It was very close to 2002 in terms of quality, but slightly less opulent and intense. Otherwise, all the ingredients are put in the right places. It is another divine and sublime white wine in the collection. It can last for minimum 25 years from now on.
Domaine de Chevalier 2000 92p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2010. Light yellow. Lovely nose of acacia flower and lemon, full-bodied and well proportioned on the palate with fresh fruit acidity. It was very attractive and tasty wine. Even if not at the same level as 2001 and 2002, this wine will mature quicker and satisfy many wine freaks, while we wait for big vintages. Already very enjoyable (2010). 12-15 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1999 92p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2005. Consistent notes. It acted like 1996, but seemed more closed and with evident oak flavour in the nose and on the palate. This was well-composed wine with strong backbone, which should not be touched for the next 10 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1998 91p
Tasted in April 2005. Light yellow. It appeared quite closed, rather tart and marked by new oak. Nice length and structure. Just like 1999, this wine should be stored in the dark corner of the cellar for several years. Fine quality.
Domaine de Chevalier 1996 93p
Tasted in April 2005. Golden. Nose was massive with intense aroma of citrus and lemon. Palate didn't stand back and offered big body, strong structure and long aftertaste. This wine was sophisticated, but more massive than normal, and will mature quite slowly. See you again in 10-15 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1995 89p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2005. Not consistent notes. Yellow. This wine was sealed both in the nose and on the palate, and acidity was very well marked. Also here, you will have to wait for 8-10 years, before this wine will open up with goodies and deserve higher rating.
Domaine de Chevalier 1994 92p
Tasted in April 2005. Golden. It had deep nose of acacia, lemon and citrus peel, strong and with much acidity on the palate. Was well-balanced and with pleasant aftertaste, well-composed and stylish. Also her we can speak about long-lived wine.
Domaine de Chevalier 1992 88p
Tasted in April 2005. Corn yellow. Was elegant and refined, both in the nose and on the palate, quite ligt and significantly forward in evolution. It can be consumed now and until 2010. Nice wine.
Domaine de Chevalier 1991 94p
Both Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon had no problems during growing season, despite destructive frost in spring that year.
Tasted in April 2005. Straw yellow. Nose had incredible depth and intensity with evident acacia aroma. Just as formidable and manifold on the palate, well structured and long. This is a wine of high class and with superb style. Give it 10-15 years horizontally.
Domaine de Chevalier 1990 90p
Tasted in April 2005. Same color as 1989, but not as evolved as 1989. This was a delicate wine with striking composition and gobs of finesse. It's the one to keep for 5-10 more years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1989 88p
Tasted in April 2005. Light yellow. It was quite evolved in the nose and on the palate with scent of pear-/peach jam, relatively light and simple. Maybe "our" bottle wasn't flawless, for I had much better bottles from this vintage on several occasions before.
Domaine de Chevalier 1988 93p
Tasted in April 2005. Pale yellow. This was strong and compact wine with big fatness on the palate, plus fine complexity, finesse and depth. It showed exquisite cooperation between sun ripe fruit and acidity. Delicious and tasty wine, which will make many winefreaks happy in the next twenty years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1987 93p
Tasted in April 2005. Light golden. It had great intensity of acacia and peach in the nose and on the palate, and was full-bodied with many nuances, well balanced and superbly composed. This wine was simply made in sublime way. Will continue like that in additional 10-12 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1986 93p
Tasted in April 2005. Light yellow. Nose and palate possessed very concentrated aroma of lemon fromage, fresh acidity, splendid structure and great complexity. The big length at the palate and fine aftertaste completed beautifully this excellent wine. It has same keeping ability as 1987.
Domaine de Chevalier 1985 95p
Tasted five times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. Sunflower yellow. It was fat in the nose and on the palate with strong aroma of lemon and melon. All was in very sophisticated package with elegance and finesse. Is really a delightful sip now and in the next 8-12 years. However it still shows its young age - no significant ageing since 2006.
Domaine de Chevalier 1984 93p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2014. Consistent notes. Light yellow. It had sophisticated nose of pear, apple and peach. On palate, it showed excellent structure, fine elegance and refinement, and was harmonious with long and round aftertaste. Just enjoy this pretty wine, which will keep for additional 10-12 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1983 90p
Tasted in April 2005. Straw yellow. There was intense and mature nose with lemon/citrus aroma. On the light side on the palate, but showed a bunch of nuances, finesse and nice length. It is drinkable now and in the next 5-7 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1982 94p
Tasted in April 2005. Yellow. It showed classic young nose of apple and lemon peel, quite intense and deep, and was smooth and refined on palate with excellent structure and lasting aftertaste. There was plenty of fresh acidity, which tied all things together beautifully. Magnificent and stylish wine, which easily can be stored for another 10-15 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1981 90p
Tasted in April 2005. Light golden. Nose showed well enough some age, but intensity and freshness were intact. It was well concentrated and long on the palate, and had marked acidity, which didn't disturb the balance in this splendid wine. It can be enjoyed now and in the next 3-5 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1979 96p
Tasted in April 2005. Yellow. Had deep nose of acacia flower and citrus with scent of peach. This wine was extremely well proportioned and opulent, delicate and refined on the palate with great length. It all was just marvellously and beautifully well composed. Here you see here a terrific example of white Bordeaux-art. It will easily manage to stay excellent for another ten years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1978 92p
Tasted in April 2005. Corn yellow. Reminded me quite much of 1975, but there was more intensity and better structure in this wine. It appeared as tasty as 1975. This fine wine will keep longer than 1975. Tasted again in October 2008 - same impressions and same rating.
Domaine de Chevalier 1975 91p
Tasted twice in April 2005. Consistent notes. More pale in the colour than 1970. There was enough of apple and pear in the nose and on the palate, quite concentrated on the palate with long finish. Acidity in this wine made every attempt to get all attention, but fruit sweetness balanced it off in fine way. It was superb wine to be enjoyed in additional 4-5 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1971 90p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2002. Not consistent notes. Splendid and energetic wine with fine acidity and corresponding fruit. Fine round aftertaste. Not bad for a 30+ years old white wine.
Domaine de Chevalier 1970 93p
Tasted in April 2005. Golden. It offered aromatic with acacia and apple, fine intensity and depth. This wine was quite fat on the palate with finesse and strong structure, showing splendid interplay between acidity and sweetness. Even if this wine was 35 years old, it's fresh like young one and showed no sign whatsoever of advanced age. Beautiful and well-crafted wine to keep for 10 more years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1964 89p
Tasted in April 2014. Interesting old wine, sherry flavors, well--balanced.
Domaine de Chevalier 1961 92p
Tasted in August 1990. It reminded me a lot of 1971 with same energy. However this wine had more concentration, more complexity and better acidity.
Domaine de Chevalier 1951 88p.
Tasted in August 1990. Aromatic wine with nice fruit showing some elegance. Light and tasty.
Domaine de Chevalier 1941 85p
Tasted in August 1990. Turning a bit into sherry but managing to keep some freshness.
There are 35 ha of vines growing on soil consisting of back sand mixed with small stones on the surface. Subsoil is a blend of clay and gravel. Planted grape varieties - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 2.5% of respectively Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Vines are on average 25 years old. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out in stainless steel vats, while alcoholic one goes on in wooden barrels. The wine matures in 50% new oak for a period of 16-20 months.
Red Domaine de Chevalier is elegant and well-balanced wine, which has significantly improved since arrival of consulting oenologist, winemaking guru Stephane Derenencourt in 2003, It now shows more refinement, richness and sophisticated touch than before.
Picking 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at Domaine de Chevalier
Domaine de Chevalier 2015 (barrel sample) 95p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2016. Consistent notes. It had splendid fruit and acidity, silky fruit and tannin, great complexity and long finish.
Domaine de Chevalier 2014 (barrel sample) 94p
Tasted three times - last time in October 2015. Consistent notes. Impressive stuff, very cherry, elegant and with finesse. Fine acidity and well-structured. Splendid balance.
Domaine de Chevalier 2013 (barrel sample) 91-92p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2014. Consistent notes. This wine showed silky fruit and tannin, aromatic dark fruit, fine acidity and fruity finish. Light texture. Very good for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2012 (barrel sample) 93+p
Tasted in April 2013. Big on the palate with considerable amount of fruit and tannin, strong structure. Oaky and intense nose. Refined. Splendid effort for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2011 92p
Tasted three times - last time in September 2014. Consistent notes. It had intense nose with oak and black fruit, splendid depth and length, strong structure, meaty texture and smooth aftertaste.
Domaine de Chevalier 2010 94+p
Tasted five times - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. This wine had fresh flavors of chocolate and cocoa powder, blackberries, beautifully balance, excellent acidity and length, and persistent finish. Excellent effort for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2009 94p
Tasted four times - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. A teenager with lot of energy and with youthfulness. It had intense and aromatic on the nose with black cherries and blackcurrants, splendid depth and length, smooth and long aftertaste. Great effort for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2008 93p
Tasted nine times - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. Harvest finished on the 25th October(!!), 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 7% Petit Verdot, Petit Verdot was ripe before Cabernet Sauvignon (!!). Intense and aromatic on the nose with black cherries and blackcurrants, splendid depth and length, smooth aftertaste. Terrific effort for the vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 2007 89p
Tasted nine times - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon + 30% Merlot + 5% Cabernet Franc + 5% Petit Verdot. Harvest finished in mid-October with excellent quality of Cabernet Sauvignon. Olivier Bernard was supposed to harvest on the 6-8 October, but took a risk and waited until the 15th October. It really paid off! It's elegant wine with silky cherry/raspberry fruit and silky tannins, very tasty and enjoyable. A one to enjoy while we wait for the big vintages to become mature.
Domaine de Chevalier 2006 91p
Tasted six times - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. This wine was pretty fine with catching aromas of black cherries and blackcurrants, full-bodied and well-structured, and with fine length on the palate.
Domaine de Chevalier 2005 95p
Tasted six times - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. It showed catchy and aromatic nose of black cherries, delightful sweetness on the palate, pure elegance and finesse. Rich, subtle and sublime wine. Yummy!
Domaine de Chevalier 2004 92p
Tasted eight times - last time in April 2014. Consistent notes. Black red. Fresh flavor of black fruit on the nose, sappy and succulent on the palate, many nuances, splendid structure and impeccably balanced. Splendid wine, stylish and very classy.
Domaine de Chevalier 2003 92p
Tasted four times - last time in April 2012. Not consistent notes. Black red. Very tight and strong structure, very ripe fruit with a touch of heat/baked flavor, very harmonious. A bit atypical for the property, but this wine is of splendid quality. In April 2012, this wine had a splendid showing without heated and baked flavors.
Domaine de Chevalier 2002 90p
Tasted five times - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. Aroma of cinnamon and red fruit, elegant with finesse on the palate, very fine quality of fruit and tannin with no trace of sharp edges, and well-balanced. Slight dryness in fruit and aftertaste.
Domaine de Chevalier 2001 91p
Tasted four times times - last time in June 2014. Not consistent notes. Black red, very aromatic on the nose with bacon, vanilla, tight structure, deep, complex and long with fine balance. An incredibly catchy wine with style and class. In April 2012, it didn't show too well with subdued nose and light texture. Better bottle in June 2014.
Domaine de Chevalier 2000 94p
Tasted three times - last time in September 2013. Consistent notes. Very complex and full of finesse. Strong aromas of black cherries, blueberries and blackberries, and blackcurrants too. Concentrated with lovely structure and depth. Splendid balance. Very fine wine indeed.
Domaine de Chevalier 1999 87p
Tasted in April 2012. Fruit isn't perfectly ripe, noticeable dryness on the palate, rather short finish.
Domaine de Chevalier 1998 93p
Tasted in April 2012. Aromatic, truffles, very attractive on the nose. Deliciously ripe fruit, ripe tannin and splendid balance. Caressing aftertaste. Very seductive wine.
Domaine de Chevalier 1996 87p
Tasted in April 2012. Similar to 1999.
Domaine de Chevalier 1995 90p
Tasted in April 2012. Very much forward in maturity with very nice and tasty fruit, well-balanced, soft and ripe tannin, and soft finish.
Domaine de Chevalier 1990 91p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2012. Not consistent notes. In 2010, truffles, very fine and subtle nose with great cherry/tobacco aromas, nice palate with firm but smooth tannins and grip. Well-made. In April 2012, lighter appearance.
Domaine de Chevalier 1989 92p
Tasted in April 2012. Fine matured fruit, very elegant and softly textured. Fine balance and velvety aftertaste.
Domaine de Chevalier 1988 90p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. Mocha on the nose with fine fruit and fine balance. Fine structure and smooth finish.
Domaine de Chevalier 1986 87p
Tasted in April 2012. Red brown color. Pleasant on the nose with matured fruit. nice balance. Seems to have peaked several years ago.
Domaine de Chevalier 1985 88p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. Elegant, supple with ripe matured fruit, nice balance and soft aftertaste.
Domaine de Chevalier 1984 89p
Tasted twice - last time in April 2012. Consistent notes. Opened this bottle in November 2011 fearing dead and buried wine, what a surprise! 27 years old wine in a vintage hampered by bad spring and not that much sunshine. Despite that you can make an adorable wine, if you a gifted and clever winemaker. Kudos to Claude Ricard who pulled the strings at that time and was called the master of off-vintages. In April 2012 at the property, it was still alive, deliciously drinkable, round and charming wine with good maturity of fruit and good balance.
Domaine de Chevalier 1983 88p
Tasted in April 2012. Not unlike 1985 with slight dryness on the finish.
Domaine de Chevalier 1975 89p
Tasted in April 2005. Hot fruit but well in balance. I think this wine is quickly beginning to show its age.
Domaine de Chevalier 1970 88p
Tasted in August 1990. Ripe fruit on the nose and palate, fine intensity, slightly pruny but well-made with nice balance and aftertaste.
Domaine de Chevalier 1968 86p
Tasted in October 2008. Pleasant surprise. Light wine but still some fruit left, nice balance and round on the palate. Absolutely drinkable. Very good effort for this catastrophic vintage.
Domaine de Chevalier 1966 92p
Tasted in April 2016. Tight and mineral wine, still showing considerable fruit.
Domaine de Chevalier 1964 93p
Tasted in April 2004. D.d.Chevalier was one of the very few properties which harvested before damaging rain came during the harvest. Red brown. Ripe berries in very fine and tasty form, elegant with finesse and lovely balance. Gorgeous wine which is so perfectly drinkable now.
Domaine de Chevalier 1961 92p
Tasted in April 2002. Still young and not fully developed. Lovely structure, splendid balance and full-bodied. Rich and long on the palate. What a treat! Will easily last for another 10 years.
Domaine de Chevalier 1960 90p
Tasted in August 1990. Red brown. Well-preserved fruit and tannin, round, prunes, charming. Still alive.
Domaine de Chevalier 1959 94p
Tasted in March 2009. Dark red. Strong and tight wine with formidable structure, balance and length. Ripe fruit and ripe tannins. Great bottle to taste!
Domaine de Chevalier 1955 96p
Tasted in April 2005. Simply outstanding 50 years old wine with delicious fruit, incredible balance, lot of finesse and sophisticated. This gorgeous wine has still so much to offer.
Domaine de Chevalier 1940 92p
Tasted in August 1990. Mid-red, brown edge. Pretty nose and palate of well-preserved prunes, light with finesse, pleasant and seductive. Splendid old wine.
Domaine de Chevalier 1928 95p
Tasted twice - last time in October 2008. Not consistent notes. In March 2008, this was an astonishingly well-preserved old wine, vivid, impeccably balanced, full-bodied with deep structure, tasty berries and splendid length. Sophisticated 80 years old heartbreaker! Wow! (98p). In October 2008, it tasted older and shorter. (92p).