© Peter Moser

40 years of excellence: A retrospective of Domaine de Chevalier

In 1983, the Bernard family acquired the traditional vineyard in Pessac-Léognan in Bordeaux and since then Olivier Bertrand has been responsible for the wines. So far, he has been responsible for forty vintages from this estate, which produces both white and red wines. A good time, he thought, to taste the forty vintages of red wines from the magnum in a group of forty international wine lovers. Falstaff presents the follow-up report on this unique wine tasting, which took place at the winery itself.

"I'm not impressed by the sheer power of a wine, it's the elegance and finesse that I look for in a great wine and that trigger emotions in me.", says host Olivier Bernard. And these are attributes that wine lovers appreciate about the Domaine de Chevalier wines. And these were explored in four rounds during the tasting, during which the wines were by no means presented according to vintage. The tasting in four acts was sensibly structured according to the structure of the wines, within a group always from the oldest to the youngest. The host explained right at the beginning that the classification was not so easy, because "time has changed some categories, the 1989, for example, was once iconic, but from today's perspective it is probably no longer."

© Peter Moser

The overture was the "delicate part"; slender and sometimes difficult years, which had passed their zenith in dignity from the magnum. Nevertheless, it was a testament to the seriousness of the tasting that these wines, from which no miracles could be expected, were not simply left out, as they are part of the history of this winery. It started in 1984, followed by 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2013. This was followed by ten wines that were classified as "refined", followed by 1985, 1986, 1995, then a clear increase with 1999, 2004, 2008, then 2012, 2013, 2017 and the red-berry, taut 2021.

In the third part of the tasting came the "classics", Olivier's premiere vintage 1983, although not a giant, very rich in finesse and still delicate. A beautiful, mature wine is 1988, followed by the 1989 with 1990 a first great highlight. The wine has reached a drinking peak, is a classic of the Domaine from the more traditional old school phase in terms of vinification. 1996 showed its spice, followed by 1998, the powerful 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2014.

The fourth flight, dedicated to the icons of the winery, led into the more recent creative period. Now all the investments in the vineyards and cellar can also be felt in the glass, as the increase in quality can clearly be tasted in the following wines: 2003 and 2005 may not yet be icons in the true sense of the word, but they are multi-faceted and promising. 2009 and 2010 are great wines, the former elegant and sweet, the latter mineral and of cool beauty, both already drinkable. A little patience is required for 2015 and 2016. A new quality level is reached in 2018 and 2019, peaking in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

Of course, these wines are still far too young today, but one is inclined to say: things look very promising. At the end of this tasting, the participants were presented with a truly impressive sight: the long table was covered with no fewer than 1,600 Riedel glasses of red Domaine de Chevalier, a sight not often seen even by the invited professionals.


The group tasting consisted of: Jean-Luc Barde, Paolo Basso, Neil Beckett, Michel Bettane, David Biraud, Simon Blanchard, Bernard Burtschy, Louis-Victor Charvet, Pierre Citerne, César Compadre, Stéphane Derenoncourt, Ronald de Groot, Béatrice Delamotte, Philippe Faure-Brac, Ralph Frenzel, Colin Hay, Georgina Hindle, Panos Kakaviatos, Chris Kissack, Andreas Larsson, James Lawther, Ella Lister, Alexandre Ma, Gérard Margeon, Peter Moser, Jean-Francis Pécresse, Michael Schuster, James Suckling, Sylvie Tonnaire, Pierre Vila Palleja, Edwin Vos as well as the hosts Olivier, Adrien and Hugo Bernard and Rémi Edange.

On November 30 and December 1 of this year, Christie's auction house in London is dedicating a special auction to Domaine de Chevalier with selected rarities directly from the château cellar, including a lot with all 40 vintages from 1983 to 2022 in double magnums.

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Peter Moser
Peter Moser
Wein-Chefredakteur Österreich