If you thought we've been a bit disparaging about the Pessac Leognan appellation, this should balance things out a bit. In addition to the wonderful range at Haut Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte and Haut Bailly have also got it spot on. Olivier Bernard has transformed Domaine de Chevalier during his tenure. In the early days, an ambitious re-planting program was undertaken, which took many years before the fruits of his labours could be enjoyed. Now the estate is in superb heath and it seems that Olivier can turn out a great red and white vintage after vintage. The 2015 is gorgeous; a profound yet reserved Domaine de Chevalier that reveals itself slowly. Initially it is understated with notes of smoky cassis. As it opens up, it displays damsons and raspberry liqueur fruit. It is subtle wine of charm and sophistication with a latent power that will help it to age gracefully for decades. Produced from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% merlot and 5% Petit Verdot and cropped at 35 hl/ha.
Olivier Bernard's extensive project at Domaine de Chevalier has really come to fruition. After a bold and not to mention expensive re-planting program throughout the `80s and then a decade and a half of patience for the vines to gain maturity, we can really see the benefits. 2005, 2008, 2009 and now 2010 rank amongst the very best wines produced in this sprawling commune. Powerful but graceful, true to their terroir, and just so enjoyable to drink; this has become one of our 'must buy' estates. Olivier's wines offer 'super second' class at relatively affordable prices.
The region has one first growth, Château Haut-Brion, whilst other renowned Chateaux currently doing well are La Mission-Haut-Brion, Pape-Clément, Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Haut-Bailly. Soils are gravely and well-drained and the plantations are similar in proportion to those of the Médoc, consisting mostly of Cabernet Sauvignon with some Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The region is also well known for its long-lived whites that can be varying blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon oaked or unoaked. The most lauded are Domaine de Chevalier, Haut-Brion, Pape-Clement, De Fieuzal, and Laville-Haut-Brion.