2008 Domaine de Chevalier
Jeb Dunnuck | 95 JD
These wines start to levitate with some bottle age, and this has a gorgeous grip that showcases the beauty of Chevalier with a few years under its belt. The mouthwatering character is clear, even with the waxy lemon-zest edging that suggests it’s sliding towards its tertiary phase. A citrus twist through the mid-palate keeps things concentrated. Drinking Window 2018 - 2028.
Decanter | 94 DEC
Dense, powerful wine that impresses both with its rich fruit and its balanced tannins. The whole wine is finely integrated, black berry flavors shot through with acidity and touches of wood. Certainly a wine for aging.
Wine Enthusiast | 94 WE
Just starting now to open, with bright fruit, light smoky and meaty undertones. Medium to full body, fresh finish. Drink or hold.
James Suckling | 93 JS
One of the fabulous sleepers of the vintage and a wine for serious Bordeaux afficionados to consider buying, the 2008 is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot that achieved 13.5% natural alcohol. Surprisingly backward for a 2008, it is medium to full-bodied with moderate tannins, lots of purity and abundant charcoal, black currant and floral notes. The sweetness of the fruit, depth of flavor and textured, lush mouthfeel in this medium to full-bodied, ageworthy 2008 are impressive. Give it 3-4 years of cellaring and drink it over the following two decades. I would not be surprised if it turns out to be as impressive as the 2010.
Robert Parker | 93 RP
(Domaine de Chevalier) The 2008 Domaine de Chevalier was only raised in thirty percent new oak, but Monsieur Derenoncourt seems to have been able to maximize the impression of this thirty percent with his program of malo in barrel, and today the wine really has not yet even begun to incorporate all of its new wood into the body of the wine. That said, there is a very impressively complex wine here underneath the new wood and this wine could ultimately come around with sufficient bottle age and prove to be a very good example of the vintage. The nose offers up a complex mélange of black cherries, plums, dark chocolate, tobacco leaf, lovely soil tones and the aforementioned, spicy new wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and a bit rigid today from its oak, but with a good core, lovely shape on the attack and very good length and grip on the ripely tannic finish. I really wish they would go back to making old school wines at DDC, as the raw materials in this 2008 are stunning. If the wood fully integrates, this will probably be the top vintage of Derenoncourt DDC rouge to cross my path. (Drink between 2018-2040).
John Gilman | 89-92 JG
The 2008 Domaine de Chevalier is a vintage that I have tasted several times. Now at a decade old, it has retained a surprisingly deep colour. The bouquet is divine: pure blackberry and pomegranate aromas, cedar and cigar box, its floral element seeming to have receded in recent years. The palate is medium-bodied and appears to have softened since I last tasted it, the tannins now more melted (though not fully), delivering a mixture of red and black fruit tinged with burnt toast, tobacco and a touch of sous-bois and smoke towards the cohesive finish. You could begin opening bottles now although knowing the track record of this estate, I would leave them for another few years. (Tasted at the château and at BI Wine & Spirit’s annual vertical tasting).
Vinous Media | 91 VM
Lilac, tar and cassis bush aromas are followed by a broad swath of mulled plum, black currant and maduro tobacco. The strong, mineral- and tar-filled spine drives through the finish, which picks up a smoldering edge. Drink now through 2018. 10,333 cases made.
Wine Spectator | 91 WS
Wine Details for 2008 Domaine de Chevalier
|Type of Wine||
: Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Red Bordeaux Blend
: The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.
Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.
For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.
Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.
The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.
: Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.
For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.
France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.
France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.
: Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.
The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Domaine de Chevalier
: Like many great Bordeaux estates, Domaine de Chevalier has witnessed a long and storied history. One of the things that makes the domaine unique; however, is how it achieved fame in a relatively short time compared to the majority of Bordeaux great growth, which took several centuries to acquire a similar status. The tremendous terroir of Pessac-Leognan is certainly a major component, but also because it has been managed by a limited number of owners, who all considered it essential to perpetuate a tradition of quality. That quest for quality is an ongoing priority at Domaine de Chevalier, today.
The Left Bank property can be traced back to the 17th Century; archives show that the small Domaine de Chivaley (meaning “knight” in Gascon) included multiple houses, outbuildings, gardens, meadows, woods and vines. The true birth of Domaine de Chevalier; however, occurred more “recently” in 1865 when it was acquired by Arnaud and Jean Ricard. The Ricard family stewarded over the property with care and purpose, each member providing the essential guidance and aptitude that allowed the domaine to prosper. Under Claude Ricard’s leadership, the estate was included among the elite Grands Crus in the 1953 Classification of the Graves. He is also responsible for crystallizing its reputation and gaining a true international dimension.
In 1983, Domaine de Chevalier was purchased by the Bernard family, and Olivier was placed in charge at the young age of 23. Despite his youth, he was well qualified to manage the property. In his wisdom, he recognized the need to retain the current winemaking team, but to also seek knowledge from Claude Ricard, himself. Through this humble beginning, Olivier Bernard was able to understand the Chevalier’s true nature. Neighboring plots were purchased in order to expand the vineyards, all aspects of winegrowing was revisited, and new buildings were constructed, with the overall goal of producing the highest quality wines possible.
The entire estate of Domaine de Chevalier covers 100 hectares, 45 of which are under vine: 40 hectares are planted to 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. The white grape varieties account for 5 hectares and are planted to 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. The vines are, on average, 30 years of age and thrive in a terroir of gravel, black sand and clay and hardpan soil. The topography plays a vital role in the growth and vitality of the vines, where elevations reaching 60 meters (the highest elevation in the appellation) above sea level, allow for superb drainage of excess water.
The exceptional terroir of Chevalier produces superb grapes that ripen remarkably early, as long as it is treated with the care it deserves. With this being said, great wine always comes from a difficult terroir, under trying conditions. “To make the most of a given terroir, it is fundamental to know it intimately,” insists Olivier Bernard. The team at Chevalier are perfectly in tune with the complex soil structure and unique environment. The philosophy is total commitment… great wine can only be made from great grapes, and the way the grapes are tended and picked at Domaine de Chevalier illustrates the winegrowing team’s quest for perfection.
Annual production for Domaine de Chevalier Rouge (red) and the estate’s second wine, L’Esprit de Chevalier is around 6,500 cases, while Domaine de Chevalier Blanc (white) is close to 1,000 cases each year. The flagship red will reach its peak maturity 8-12 years after the vintage and will age gracefully for 30 years or more. Perhaps even more impressively, the Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is one of the longest-lived wines in all of Bordeaux, with numerous great vintages of this wine from the 1950s, 1940s and even older that can be enjoyed with great pleasure today. This is a testament to Domaine de Chevalier, its terroir and the remarkable individuals that have, through history, developed a brand that is synonymous with quality.