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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...”
After the much-awaited and much-vaunted 2009 vintage, which has fully lived up to expectations, was Mother Nature really capable of bestowing another great vintage on Bordeaux the following year? Considering the weather patterns over the summer and analysis of the grapes during the 2010 harvest, the cautious answer was "Yes, maybe". However, once fermentation finished, the answer became "Yes, probably". By late March, the strategy for the final blend has been decided, so we can answer that 2010 will most certainly be a great and even a very great year for both red and white wines.
As an introduction to this vintage appraisal, it is always useful to refer to the five conditions that "make" a perfect vintage for red Bordeaux.
- 1) (2) Early, rapid flowering and fruit-set during weather that is sufficiently warm and dry to ensure pollination and predispose toward simultaneous ripening,
- (3) The gradual onset of water stress thanks to a warm, dry month of July in order to slow down and then put a definitive stop to vine growth during véraison (colour change),
- (4) Full ripening of the various grape varieties thanks to dry and warm (but not excessively so) weather in the months of August and September,
- (5) Fine (dry and medium-warm) weather during the harvest making it possible to pick at mid-ripeness without running the risk of dilution or rot.
Even though flowering in Merlot was not ideal due to slightly cool, wet weather in June that caused coulure (shot berries), millerandage ("hens and chickens"), and low yields, 2010 fits all the above conditions thanks to a remarkably dry summer (but without any heat waves) that continued into a sunny, medium-warm autumn with average precipitation. The vines underwent greater and more widespread water stress in 2010 than in 2009. In that respect, 2010 is more similar to 2005 than 2009.
The moderately warm daytime temperatures and cool nights in August and September encouraged the synthesis of aroma precursors and maintained good acidity in the grapes. This means that 2010 was also a very great vintage for white wines, as much for Sauvignon Blanc as for Sémillon.
The development of noble rot at the right time, as soon as the grapes are ripe, i.e. sufficiently sweet, but potentially fruity and still retaining good acidity, determines whether a vintage will be great in Sauternes and Barsac. This calls for alternating periods of mist or fog (conducive to the spread of botrytis) and drier, warmer, or more windy periods to concentrate the grapes. Without being as tremendously concentrated as 2009, 2010 will undoubtedly be a great vintage for sweet white Bordeaux, and a fitting end to an outstanding decade with an uninterrupted run of good-to-excellent vintages, the like of which has never been seen in the region.
Early and fairly quick flowering at the beginning of June, followed by satisfactory fruit set in all grape varieties except for Merlot (affected by coulure and millerandage)
Marked by three cold waves in mid-December, early January, and mid-February, the winter of 2010 was as grey, long, and harsh as 2009 (Tables I to III). Subsequent to a cold winter and a month of March close to the seasonal average (Figure 1) it was impossible for bud break to happen early. This thus occurred from early to mid-April, just a few days later than 2009 and 2008. However, the vines made up for this slight delay thanks to a sunny, warm, and remarkably dry month of April (Tables I-III).
Domaine de Chevalier
Grand Cru Classé de Graves
The Domaine de Chevalier, located in Léognan, the capital town of the Graves region, has a long history. It appears on the map drawn in 1763 under the name of “Chibaley” (meaning knight, in the Gascon language).
The very notion of domain, that has been deliberately kept by the successive owners who never sought to replace it by the more recent appellation of “château”, is the heritage of long and rich pages of history, highlighting the sense of balance that the current master of the house is so anxious to maintain.
In 1983, the estate was purchased by the Bernard family, and it has been run ever since by Olivier Bernard. In line with the history of Chevalier, he perpetuates that spirit of balance and the constant drive for perfection which, over the last 130 years, have been the hallmark of this outstanding wine.
Today, from the secret garden protected by the vast, surrounding forest, the estate has become a remarkably open haven where visitors, keen to imbue themselves with the spirit of the Graves region, can benefit from its longstanding tradition of hospitality.
The red Domaine de Chevalier, the flagship of the Pessac Léognan appellation, belongs to the elite of the great classified growths of Bordeaux.
”The philpsophy that I have instilled here, with the help of my team, all revolves around quality and balance. Cost has never been the foremost consideration. Furthermore, all the profits have been reinvested in thr property... The quest for quality os an ongoing priority here.” -Olivier Bernard
Soil: dark sand and fine white gravel, with a subsoil of well drained sandstone
Production area: 35 ha
Grape varieties: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 2,5% Cabernet Franc, 2,5% Petit Verdot
Average age of vines: 25 years
Harvest method: hand picked, triple sorting
Winemaking: vatting gravity without pumping, alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel and coated steel temperature controlled vats. Maceration for 2 to 3 weeks at 30-32°C
Ageing: 18 months in 50% new barrels
Domaine de Chevalier
Tel. +33 5 5664 1616
Fax. +33 5 5664 1818