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One of our negoce treated us to a tasting and lunch at Domaine de Chevalier in Pessac-Leognan. As we approached Domaine de Chevalier for lunch we were presented with a vineyard worker and a horse working the vineyards.
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It conjured romantic visions in my mind of what I want Bordeaux to be. If I did not know that this is a practice that is regularly carried on at this estate then I would have chalked it up to a marketing stunt – but this is real and it may be the beginning of a larger movement in Bordeaux (see my post on organic and biodynamic tastings here).
Upon arriving we were greeting by the owners in a room with a blazing fire that smelled of days and times long past.
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We proceeded to a tasting of 2011 vintage of the Domaine and its related wines and then sat to a buffet lunch where we were treated to a number of back vintages of Domaine de Chevalier and other wines. The 2011s we were presented with were some of the best samples we had – they were uncharacteristically soft and balanced. The back vintages of Domaine de Chevalier were also very, very good even though they hailed from unheralded vintages like: 1981, 1991, and 2001. The other wines we were treated to included: 2001 Olivier Leflaive Corton-Charlemagne and the 2001 Zind-Humbrecht Brand.
Here are the notes on the wines we tasted at the tasting:
2011 Ch. Peyrabon: Soft with a good dense mouth feel and soft tannins. All in balance nice wine.
2011 Ch. Domaine de la Solitude: Surprisingly good. Concentrated ripe fruit with hints of vanilla. Refreshing acidity combined with a soft and round structure. One of the best wines we had had up till that point.
2011 Ch. Lespault-Martillac: Similar in style to the first two wines but with a touch more tannin and a little bit more of a bitter fruit profile. Excellent wine but a touch below the first two.
2011 L’Espirit de Chevalier: Second wine of Domaine de Chevalier. Dark opaque blood red. More closed on the nose than the other wines. Primary. Evident oak. Good second wine but nothing remarkable.
2011 Domaine de Chevalier: Fresh ripe fruit with a hint of oak. Medium bodied with ample acidity. Strong evident tannins that were well managed but still mouth drying. Hge wine that will need a lot of time to develop. Excellent.
Here are notes on the wines that we had with lunch:
2001 Domaine de Chevalier (Blanc): Clearly the best of the white wines that we were presented with. Darker colour than expected – deep golden colour. Medium intensity nose of sweet pineapple fruit with a touch of grapefruit pith. On the palate, medium plus acidity with a beautiful fresh fruit profile. Long finish. This was just beautiful. Rooftop will consider finding some of this to import – although importing Bordeaux Blanc into British Columbia is a recipe for going bankrupt.
1981 Domaine de Chevalier (Rouge): Ruby red. Surprinsingly youthful – looks only 5-6 years old. Explosive nose of classic Bordeaux cassis combined with herbaciousness. Super fresh and delicious on the palate. The taste profile is mature with faded fruit – but this is an example that top Bordeaux can age well even in weaker vintages. Surprising wine.
1991 Domaine de Chevalier: From a 12L Balthazar. A little lighter in colour than the 1981 and showing a touch more age. Similar explosive nose of cassis and capsicum. Pleasant in that aged Bordeaux way. Still a touch of vanilla lingering from the oak – even after 20 years. Surprising amount of fruit left – cassis and raspberry. Good acidity and balance but the tannins are starting to fade. Drink now!
2001 Domaine de Chevalier: Very dense ruby red with a strong nose of sweet ripe cassis. No herbaciousness here although maybe a lingering touch of jagermeister? Good acidity, tannic structure and balance. Can last longer – but it is so good right now I would drink up.