Domaine de Chevalier

2013 Bordeaux: JJ Buckley Pursues a Road Less Travelled

This sign leaves no doubt as to where we are

This sign leaves no doubt as to where we are

On the first big day of tastings at each years en primeur, many folks find themselves cruising up and down the famed D2 highway of the Medoc visiting the domaines that line the rolling road from Margaux and St. Estephe. This year JJ Buckley decided to take the road less traveled and headed south to Pesssc-Leognan to dig a little deeper into the red and white wines of this unique appellation. As it turns out, it was a great plan.

The region formerly known as Graves has been a source for delicious wines over the past few years. Whether red or white, the wineries of Pessac (just outside the boundaries of Bordeaux city proper) and Leognan (where estates are scattered among the rolling hills some 20 minutes south) have been making wines that rival those made by the top domaines of the Haut-Medoc. And it’s not just the top estates like Haut-Brion or La Mission Haut-Brion that are driving the region forward. Reds like Haut-Bailly and Domaine de Chevalier are proving that quality extends among many.

Knowing that the reds of Pessac-Leognan have often successfully weathered the problems that arise in difficult vintages, we were optimistic that we would find some exciting surprises. Well we did but not as expected. For the most part, the wines we sampled showed medium-weighted palates with vibrant red fruit flavors. Bright and expressive, there were often firm tannic undercurrents found across the appellation that detracted a bit. It’s hard to day whether this came from pressing that was too vigorous or picking grapes too early. It is true that the delicate nature of the fruit in 2013 required that tannins be in balance.

One of the top wines from 2013 are twice as nice here

One of the top wines from 2013 are twice as nice here

The top wines immediately brought the best Burgundies to mind with their suave textures and softness of fruit. Many times we found ourselves guessing whether a wine was more like a Cotes de Nuits versus a Cote de Beaune. The delicate nature of the fruit in 2013 required wineries to adopt more gentle techniques on the cellar to minimize the tannins so my guess is that the pinot noir resemblance came from this lighter touch. Could some wineries been a bit too gentle?

Where the reds left us a bit underwhelmed, the same could not be said about the whites. These are wines that are thrilling to taste and are full of potential. Already showing oodles of fruit that swirl around and reveal even more nuance and complexity, these wines will be stunning wines during the next 4-8 years. The best wines will rival anything that Burgundy can produce with mouthwatering minerals and acidity adding spine to broad textured palates full of pear and apple flavors. These wines are always made in small quantities when compared to each winery’s red wine production so they are well worth searching out. Look for our upcoming Bordeaux report to read about our favorites.

When Sleep Deprived & Parched, There’s No Place Like Domaine de Chevalier

When Sleep Deprived & Parched, There’s No Place Like Domaine de Chevalier

Post by John Perry | April 8th, 2011

While my colleagues from the south may be able to cope with the temps in Bordeaux this week, 80 degrees is roasting for this northern California guy.  Couple that with tasting 50-100+ wines in a day and the insanity of Bordeaux rush hour traffic, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.  Thankfully, we wound up at Domaine de Chevalier for dinner, which would turn out to be one of my most memorable experiences in Bordeaux.

Olivier Bernard: A true gentleman

With the mood set—lack of sleep, spent palate, hot weather, traffic jams, getting lost—we pulled up to Domaine de Chevalier looking something like The Bad News Bears. Outside to greet us was the owner of the property, Olivier Bernard, whose reputation had preceded him. My boss had told me that Olivier is a really intelligent and charming guy, and the negociant who drove me to the property confirmed this. But meeting him in person, I was blown away by his generosity, relaxed personality, and philosophy about wine.

Sporting a suntanned face, calloused hands, and the build of a linebacker, you immediately get the sense that he’s completely down to earth and connected to the land here, despite being the owner of one of the best properties in Pessac.  He welcomed us into the entrance of the cellars, and seemed to know that, instead of wine, what we’re really needed was a glass of water!  With our thirst quenched, rather than pouring the 2010, he offered us a tour, telling us he knew we had very likely had the wine multiple times this week (which we had) and that there was no need to strain us further when “relaxation is the only thing on the agenda.” (more…)