Most of the time when people talk about Bordeaux, they're talking about red wines, so it kind of tickles me to seek out and try the other side of the coin from the world's most famous wine region. Those interested in experiencing white Bordeaux could do worse than start with Domaine de Chevalier, an estate that has become as well known for its whites as its reds.
Domaine de Chevalier was only converted to a winegrowing estate in 1865 (as opposed to many Chateau in Bordeaux who have centuries and centuries of history) by the Ricard family. It was shepherded and built through several generations of family ownership until 1989 when it passed out of family hands. For some, this marked the beginning of the end for the estate, however it continues to make consistent and even excellent wine (with some continued involvement from the Ricard family), though perhaps not with all same artisanal touches that marked the fully family owned production. It is still a small operation, producing only 1200 cases of this wine every year.
Domaine De Chevalier sits back within a pine forest in the northwest section of the Graves sub appellation of Bordeaux. The area surrounding Chevalier has been known for about 15 years as Pessac-Leognan, but don't bother yourself with that -- it's hard to keep all these names straight. The soil of the estate is admired for its deep granite gravel base which provides excellent drainage to both the Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc that make up this wine, as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot that make up their red wines.
This wine is 30% Semillon, 70% Sauvignon Blanc, and is both fermented and aged on its lees (skins, pulp and pits) in 35% new French Oak for 18 months. Unfortunately it is fined with Bentonite and filtered before bottling to eliminate sediment and improve clarity, thankfully, though, this hasn't eliminated all the character from the wine.
The color of light straw, this wine has a bright and lively nose filled with aromas of grapefruit, kaffir lime leaves and wet slate. In the mouth it is just as dynamic with flavors of lemon zest and minerals that taper to a clean refreshing finish.
This is a great food wine and one that will pair well with lots of different dishes, both light and heavy. I'd be happy to drink it with goat cheese, sundried tomato, and roasted garlic souffles.
Overall Score: 9
How Much?: $50
Because of its small production, this wine is always hard to get unless you're buying close to its release date. However, like most famous French wines, there's always some out there on the Internet. Try Wine Searcher.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 5/1/16 I'll Drink to That: Charles Philipponnat of Champagne Philipponnat Vinography Images: White Wall I'll Drink to That: Author Ian D'Agata West of West Pinot Tasting: May 19, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 4/24/16 2016 Garagiste Wine Festival: May 19, Oakland Warm Up: Tannins I'll Drink to That: Winemaker Andy Erickson Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 17, 2016
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune