A Knight to remember! Dinner at Domaine de Chevalier
Author: Guest Blogger
Whilst on a recent trip to Bordeaux for the 2010 En Primeur tastings, we had the great pleasure of spending an evening with Olivier Bernard and his wife, Anne, proprietors of Pessac-Leognan estate, Domaine de Chevalier. After a tour of the winery where Olivier outlined his winemaking ethos, minimal intervention to allow the personality of the estate to shine through, we moved on to tasting the 2010 barrel samples and 2008 bottle samples – both excellent and showing the consistency of this great Graves terroir.
Canapés on the terrace were accompanied by the excellent Cuvée Grand Siècle from Laurent Perrier, perfect after a hard day of tasting from the barrel. A blend of three vintages, there is a perfect harmony of youth and maturity, with complexity but real definition. A perfect start to the evening and a brilliant match to the amuse bouche, Foie Gras Crème Brulée – decadence in a pot!
Moving into the panelled dining room, Olivier informed us that all the remaining wines to be poured over the course of the evening would end in the year -1. They would all be served blind and we would be asked to guess the identity and vintage. Looking at the sparkling array of glassware in front of us, it was obvious that we were in for a treat.
Three whites were poured side by side, all showing some age but considerable grace. It didn’t take long to hit on ’91 as the vintage and a hint that one was Domaine de Chevalier Blanc soon had wild guesses flying across the table. The majority went with the middle wine which (luckily) turned out to be the estate wine, showing brilliantly against two Puligny 1er Crus, one from Leflaive (Le Champ Canet) and the other Monnier (Les Folatieries). The excellent scallop ceviche starter paired very well with all the whites, showing there is no substitute when it comes to matching shellfish and wines.
On to the reds and main course of Poulet Bordelaise (chicken with a rich red wine sauce) served with baby leeks. First up was a wine with considerable age, although a lingering red fruit nose which led us to believe we weren’t barking up the wrong tree when suggesting Burgundy. The common consensus was a ’61 so you can imagine our surprise when the wine was revealed to be a 1921 Nuits-St-Georges from Marie Andre. 90 years old and showing no signs of stopping. Next up was a magnum of 1971 Ch. La Grace Dieu, also in fine form and showing the longevity of top St Emilions.
What came next was one of the highlights of our collective wine tasting experience. A legendary wine that few of us had seen, let alone had the pleasure to taste – 1961 Ch. Palmer. This was the wine that cemented Palmer’s reputation and rightly so. Showing none of its 50 years, the murmurs of appreciation turned to awed silence when Olivier revealed the bottle. A wine moment for all, even the Courtier dining with us who had been given (and consumed) 50 cases as a Christening present!
A regional cheese board and pair of the Domaine’s reds followed, with the ’61 showing it had aged as gracefully as the Palmer and the ’91 at its peak in the collective opinion. We had expected everything after the earlier wines to struggle but both wines showed the class of the estate and the serious ageing potential of Domaine de Chevalier’s wines. At least for those who have the patience and will power to resist them in their youth.
Last and by certainly no means the least, a pair of Sauternes to distract us from the excellent blood orange gratin served for pudding. The 1981 Ch. Caillou ‘Private Cuvee’ was the perfect foil to the 2001 Ch. Guiraud. The former showing the elegance of aged Sauternes with the latter just starting to hit its boot-straps, with a long life ahead for this renowned vintage. Sadly our taxi had arrived but we all left with the memory of an excellent night with many thanks to the Bernard family for their generous hospitality.
Fergus Stewart – Private Account Manager