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2000 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Leognan (Bordeaux), France

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.

Tasting Notes:
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.

Food Pairing:
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.

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