In Bordeaux, where most wine producers put “château” before their name, one winery stands out by using “domaine”, a word more commonly associated with Burgundy. Domaine de Chevalier is in Pessac-Léognan, an area carved out of the commune Graves, in 1987.
Formerly Domaine de Chivaley (meaning “knight”, in old Gascon), the name was updated to incorporate the more modern French word “Chevalier”.
The current owner is Olivier Bernard, whose family come from the spirits business and were also négociants of premium Bordeaux wine. In 1983, they acquired Domaine de Chevalier, and Bernard, then 23 years old, was delegated to oversee operations.
Domaine de Chevalier is more famed for its white wines, although it produces only about 18,000 bottles of those compared with 100,000 bottles of red. The white wines are the most expensive, with Bernard believing they are in the same league as the top white Bordeaux, Château Haut-Brion Blanc and Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc. Despite the price, the whites still offer good value and have the potential to age and grow in complexity over time.
The reds, however, are seriously undervalued. The vines used to make them are now on average about 25 years old, and producing wines that are elegant and growing in complexity and structure.
“It takes at least 25 years of existence for the vines to produce great character wines,” says Bernard. “We are already there now.”
The red wines’ more affordable price tags may change, though, with wine critics now taking notice of the improvement in quality.
CLOS DES LUNES, LUNE D’ARGENT BORDEAUX BLANC 2014
Bernard’s latest project, Clos des Lunes is named after the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, which also denotes harvest time for grape growers.
Fruit is harvested by hand early in the morning to preserve freshness and aromas. The wine is made from 70 per cent semillon and 30 per cent sauvignon blanc. Aged for six months, 25 per cent in barrel and 75 per cent in stainless steel.
Vibrant fresh apple, citrus, grassy aromas. A rounder body with good fruit acidity framed with balanced acidity. A delicious, approachable and easy-drinking wine. HK$148
DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER BLANC 2011
A challenging year, with drought in July followed by cooler weather. Harvest was 15 days earlier than normal.
Made from 70 per cent sauvignon blanc and 30 per cent semillon.
Ripe peach, citrus, grapefruit with some spicy notes. Rich mouthfeel with crisp acidity, high fruit intensity, balanced oak tannins and finishing very long. Quite youthful and will benefit from further ageing. HK$778
DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER 2009
The 2009 vintage is considered stellar in terms of quality and volume. The weather cooperated, with rain in the spring and a long, hot, dry summer providing excellent conditions for the grapes’ optimum ripeness.
The wine is made up of 63 per cent cabernet sauvignon, 30 per cent merlot and the remainder a blend of cabernet franc and petit verdot.
Red wines are fermented in stainless steel and matured for 18 months in oak barrels, of which 35 per cent is new oak.
Ripe, dense blackcurrant, some leather and licorice. Full bodied, with soft acidity, high fruit concentration and elegant tannins. An opulent wine style that is youthful, still tight in structure and will improve with long-term cellaring. HK$650
The wines are available from kerrywines.com