2022 Domaine de Chevalier, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux
The 2022 Domaine de Chevalier was picked from 5-30 September and represents the 40th vintage under the irrepressible Olivier Bernard, who celebrates with a one-off label. It soars from the glass with take-no-prisoner aromatics: perfumed mineral-rich red berry fruit, incense and black truffle.
Pessac-like earthiness with an opposing airiness defines many a great wine from this estate. The palate is medium-bodied with grippy tannins. Slightly powdery in texture and saline in the mouth, this gets the saliva flowing. However, the arching structure on the finish suggests it will require considerable bottle age.
Cellar this for a few decades, and you'll be repaid handsomely. 14% alcohol.
Drink 2034 - 2075
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (April 2023)
The 2022 Domaine de Chevalier is a powerhouse. I don’t remember tasting anything like it. Black cherry, plum, graphite, liquorice and spic add to an impression of virile intensity. Readers should expect to play the long game, as the tannins are pretty imposing at this stage. That has been the case each of the four times I have tasted the 2022 so far.
Drink 2030 - 2052
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (April 2023)
Showing how it's done in 2022, Domaine de Chevalier comes in strong with a deep ruby red colour, a vibrant rim, smoked oak on the nose, edges of tar, red roses, liquorice root, and a confident delivery of full-on tannic architecture that frames the cassis and bilberry fruit.
Delivers vintage signature in a carefully controlled way, with enough slate, pumice stone, mint and eucalyptus to balance things out and slow down delivery. The fruits are fully ripe, heading towards baked plum and fig, but met step by step with a corresponding cooling flavour. 40th harvest of Olivier Bernard (meaning a special label).
Drink 2030 - 2048
Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com (May 2023)
65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 40 hl/ha. In conversion to organic management. Special label with a Chinese drawing of a horse to celebrate Olivier Bernard’s 40th vintage. Cask sample.
Deep crimson. Intensely mineral, with a highly distinctive nose. Very different from the sweet fruit bombs elsewhere. Racy and likely to age well in the Dom de Chevalier tradition. Sinewy, but by no means meagre. Very much its own style. Cool and fresh but with fruit that is quite ripe enough and massively mineral. Intense, with lots tucked in there for future development. Clean, fresh, appetising finish.
Drink 2030 - 2050
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (May 2023)
A blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, the 2022 Domaine de Chevalier delivers aromas of minty dark berries, cherries, and ripe plums mingled with hints of liquorice, coniferous forest and spices. Medium to full-bodied, it’s concentrated and layered, textured and elegant, framed by powdery tannins and concluding with a long, penetrating, long finish.
Olivier Bernard and his team have crafted an outstanding wine with a special label commemorating his 40th vinification at this Péssac-Léognan reference point.
William Kelley, Wine Advocate (April 2023)
Wow. This is incredibly structured and powerful, with ultra-fine tannins that are tight and layered. It’s full and powerful with carved muscles of tannins. This will need so much time.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (April 2023)
Lovely detail and precision with plump, ripe fruit, good concentration and intensity, and mouth-filling tannins with a beautiful texture and overall length. Feels really well made, structured and vibrant, not taken too far, with a really appealing flavour and texture. Just lovely, fresh, lifted, still concentrated with underlying power but delivered seamlessly.
A brilliant, compelling, utterly moreish wine. 2% Cabernet Franc completes the blend. A yield of 40hl/ha. Harvest 15 September - 5 October. Ageing 18 months; 33% new barrels, 65% one and two wine. In organic conversion. Derenoncourt consultants.
Drink 2026 - 2046
Georgina Hindle, Decanter.com (April 2023)
As to the Grand Vin 2022 Domaine De Chevalier, this awesome Graves is based on 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and the rest Cabernet Franc. Vinified in a mix of concrete and wood tanks, with a portion seeing malolactic fermentation in barrel, it offers a deep purple/ruby hue and a brilliant bouquet of crème de cassis, graphite, smoke tobacco, and damp earth.
Reminding me of a supercharged version of the 2016, it's full-bodied and has a layered, silky mouthfeel, beautiful tannins, and an excellent finish. Released with a new, one-off label, the 2022 celebrates Olivier Bernard's 40th year at the château, and it's certainly a wine worth seeking out.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2023)
About this WINE
Domaine de Chevalier
Domaine de Chevalier is one of the few Graves estates to produce both first class reds and whites. The property was purchased by the Ricard family in 1865 and remained in their hands until it was bought by the Bernard distilling company in 1983. Domaine De Chevalier has 35 hectares of vines and red wine accounts for 80% of the production. Made from a blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc, the wine is fermented in temperature-controlled, stainless steel vats and then matured in oak barriques (50% new) for 18 months.
Domaine de Chevalier is fortunate to have such a fine team to run its affairs. Olivier, whose family business owns the estate, is the outgoing but canny administrator whilst Rémi Edange is hands-on, knowing every vine and every barrel. Whilst their white wines have always been amongst the very finest, the reds were simpler affairs. But from the 1995 vintage onwards greater flair and concentration was in evidence. The quality curve is now further accentuated by the team's bold move to appoint Stéphane Derenoncourt, of La Mondotte fame, as consultant winemaker. Domaine De Chevalier is classified as a Graves Cru Classé.
In 1986 a new communal district was created within Graves, in Bordeaux, based on the districts of Pessac and Léognan, the first of which lies within the suburbs of the city. Essentially this came about through pressure from Pessac-Léognan vignerons, who wished to disassociate themselves from growers with predominately sandy soils further south in Graves.
Pessac-Léognan has the best soils of the region, very similar to those of the Médoc, although the depth of gravel is more variable, and contains all the classed growths of the region. Some of its great names, including Ch. Haut-Brion, even sit serenely and resolutely in Bordeaux's southern urban sprawl.
The climate is milder than to the north of the city and the harvest can occur up to two weeks earlier. This gives the best wines a heady, rich and almost savoury character, laced with notes of tobacco, spice and leather. Further south, the soil is sandier with more clay, and the wines are lighter, fruity and suitable for earlier drinking.
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.