This Pessac-Léognan estate is one of the only Bordeaux properties which has retained its 'domaine' title over the now standard 'château', reflecting a pride in its long history, which dates back to the 17th century. The name Chevalier has evolved from chivaley, the Gascon word for 'knight', which was originally the estate's name according to maps dating back to 1763. It has been run by a string of dedicated owners, each of whom was at the helm for a significant length of time, and took the responsibility seriously.
Domaine de Chevalier is one of the most original estates in Bordeaux, making finely tuned and distinguished claret, with multi-faceted flavour and distinctive, mineral Graves character. It is also rightly famous for its long-lived dry whites from vines planted on five of the estate's 45 hectares under vine. The vines are planted in a single block on gravel with clay-gravel soils and have an average age of 25 years. Great care is taken in the vineyard with individual lots picked and fermented separately, no herbicides are used and any fertilisers are organic.
Though the property, surrounded by woodland, has always been susceptible to frost damage, it has long earned a reputation for success in difficult years, and the forest also provides the vineyard with a variety of beneficial insects. In 1983 Claude Ricard, who had done much to establish the property's reputation and whose family had owned the estate for over 100 years, sold it to the Bernard family whose profitable spirits business provided much-needed investment.
The ebullient Olivier Bernard worked alongside Claude Ricard for five years, learning the special qualities of the wine, before taking full charge. A superb new winery was built in the 1990s and the vineyard was expanded.
The red wine is generally a blend of 64% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 5% each of petit verdot and cabernet franc, and the white is a 70/30 split between sauvignon and semillon. Both are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats before being aged in oak for 18 months: for the whites, 30% of the oak is new, whereas the reds use 35% new oak. We recommend drinking Domaine de Chevalier at between 10 and 30 years of age.