Domaine de Chevalier Pessac-Leognan is one of my favourite Bordeaux Estates. The wines are lean, elegant, understated and perfectly balanced. I have never had a bad bottle: young or old. I’ve found in great years the wine is great, in tough years the wine exceeds expectations and is a bargain. The Domaine (not Chateau!) is 80 hectare split up as 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 2.5% each of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
“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.” (NM) (1/2018) 91 points Vinous.
The home of the original Claret that the English fell in love with. Graves gets its name from the large amounts of gravel in the vineyard which gives a lighter, more aromatic style of Bordeaux. Although it is on the Left Bank it more often lines up with the Right Bank on vintage preferences. Graves is capable and often excels at making white wines from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. They are often barrel aged and live as long as any white in the world.
Part of the larger Graves appellation that is the home of the original Claret that the English feel in love with. Pessac hosts most of the big names in the Graves appellation and is allowed to be named as a separate appellation.
The noble variety of Bordeaux’s left bank. Firm tannins, a streak of acidity and punctuated by flavours of cassis, violets, spice and leather. The best examples can age for the long term. Although Cabernet does often require blending with Merlot, Cabernet Franc or Shiraz to fix the hole it has in its middle palate.
It gets a tough time most of the places it is grown. But in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion Merlot not only dominates but makes some of the best wines in the world. Perfume, silky and plush. Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon season the wines with structure and acid but in some places, like Petrus, they are almost not needed.
Variable weather conditions during the growing season meant 2008 was a difficult year. On the Left Bank the vintage favoured the later ripening Cabernet Sauvignon and the wines that use a high percentage of it such as those in Pauillac and St-Julien. The wines have classic flavours but aren’t as ‘dazzling’ as 2005, 2009. The Right Bank offered a small crop of seductive but tannic wines that will age very well. Some care is required when selecting wines.