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Old Vintages of Domaine de la Chevalerie

Old Vintages of Domaine de la Chevalerie

These are Limited!

Domaine de la Chevalerie

Last month I and three of the Devenish sales people visited Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil. Chevalerie has been a touchstone winery for me that has produced some of the most beautiful and transcendent wines I have drunk. These wines have a beautiful energy to them; they taste alive and joy filled to me. They’re precise, supple, and integrated but have such lovely and accessible fruit.  
All of these wines are in stock at our warehouse but only a few cases of any came into the US. If you’d like any the best thing to do is contact your local wine shop and have them special order whatever you’d like.
Everything just lined up and our allocation for the year just happened the week we got back. This is probably about it for what we can get for 2023. Chevalerie doesn’t make that much wine and they have quite a following in Europe so each year only a few pallets come into the US.
Chevalerie was founded by the Caslot family back in the mid 1600s and they’re still here working the land today. Over the years they’ve learned a lot and also acquired some great vineyard parcels. The vineyards are all pretty much contiguous on a gentle slope rising up from the Loire. All the vineyards are farmed naturally, but they have different characters and are vinified separately. The winery is built above and in a subterranean limestone quarry that was begun in the eleventh century, so part of it is a thousand years old. The initial press and fermentation happens up stairs but then the wines are moved down into the cavern where there is over an acre of storage space at perfect stable cool temperatures. The ability to age the wines until the family feels they’re ready to release certainly contributes to why these are so spell binding. These wines are so lovely and quite rare. Not much is produced and the wines are sought after. Maine is very lucky to get a large part of the US allocation.
I snapped a shot of this handy graphic below:

Bastille Day is just under a week away and we’ve got to events to celebrate the holiday! Bastille day is sort of like the French Fourth of July. It marks the day that citizens stormed the Bastille in Paris to free political prisoners, seize weapons, and demand limits on the power of the King.
Freshly back from France we’re holding a pair of celebrations!
Friday July 14th (Bastille Day) we’re taking over Novare Res and having an awesome selection of French wines available.
Saturday July 15th we’ll be at Broad Arrow Farm in Bristol with more French wine, incredible cured meats from their own pigs, and Petanque!

Laurie Caslot in the vineyard with Laurent Bonnois talking about how they farm. Rather natural as you can see. They let grasses and other plants grow in the vineyard but cut them back by hand periodically to keep the vines from getting completely over run. They were planning on having people out with hoes trimming the weeds back soon. The old vines have very deep roots so grasses aren’t too much competition.

Here’s a video of part of the vineyard walk and cellar visit! Laurie had amazing energy and enthusiasm for the vineyard and to share it. Her father and sister (both now passed) did as well and I’m sure that also plays a part in making these wines what they are.

Chevalerie Cuvee 2014 Peu Muleau
Approximatey $29

The Peu Muleau vineyard has the youngest vines of the Chevalerie vineyards and is always ready to drink sooner than the others. That's because the soil of this vineyard has more sand and the tuffeau llimestone subsoil is more broken up. The sand absorbs more heat and the broken tuffeau is easier for the vines roots to burrow through. The vineyard is up above the Domaine de la Chevalerie vineyard and just below the forest of chestnut, acacia, oak, pine and birch. The vines are around 35 years old, and farmed biodynamically. Peu Muleau gets a shorter maceration of less than 20 days. Aging is done in a mix of tank and large used barrels with less oak. 

Aroma: juicy blackberry and a bit brambley. It's ripe juicy fruit but not too in your face or powerful an aroma. A little bit of black currant too.

Taste: juicy, smooth fresh blackberry and cherry flavors that seamlessly add black pepper and currant flavors in the mid palate while also opening up into a rounder softer profile. Then the finish brings the addition of integrated tannic structure that pulls the wine together but then fades gently away. Lastly there's a lingering delicious dark plum flavor. This Cabernet Franc is so smooth and elegant. 

The different flavor components all appear one after the other but make us this beautiful harmonious experience: it really reminds me of the opening of a symphony with different instrumental sections joining in one after another until you have a single piece of music. This isn't a super deep, demanding, or complex wine, but it's beauty is unusual and impressive. It's also shockingly uplifting and fresh. It's hard to quantify but the wine has a precision about it and the finish is structured but just gently recedes like a caress. This is a great demonstration of the talent and skill Chevalrie has!

Here I am in front of the Busardieres vineyard!

Chevalerie Bourgueil Cuvee Diptyque 2019

Approximately $19

Diptyque is made from Chevalerie’s vineyards down closer to the Loire. The soil here is an alluvial mix of gravel, sand, and some clay. The vines are younger (still old by most standards) and ripen earlier because the gravel and sand reflect more solar heat at the vines. Diptyque has a shorter maceration and is aged in stainless steel. I can’t get over how delicious the 2019 Diptyque is. 2019 was a good year and this must be right at it’s peak right now. It’s so juicy but supple while also being playful and lipsmacking and thirst quenching! This entry level cuvee always impresses me with it’s value but 2019 seems particularly good!
Aroma: juicy really ripe red cherry but also with some touches of wild blueberry, a little bit of cocoa, and a bit of rose. It's a really beautiful inviting fruit forward but not to big and not jammy aroma
Taste: the fruit is very supple and has just the right amount of bright acidity. Silky textured cherry backed up with some delicious salt on the mid palate, a little bit of black pepper, and then some red cherry flavors and gentle tannin on the finish. It's such a delicious lovely and beautifully balanced easy going red wine. The 2019 vintage is so good and drinking beautifully right now!

The caverns really go on and on. Those hallways have other hallways off of them. I did some exploring and the rooms just kept going and branching out!

Domaine de Chevalerie 2017 Galichets
Approximately $32

The Galichets vineyard is part way up the slope on clay and gravel over limestone tuffeau with vines that are about 50 years old now. The gravel helps these vines to ripen a bit before Chevalerie or Breteche and the younger vines give slightly fresher fruit. This and the 2015 are similar, like you’d expect, but this is a little punchier and has more intense fruit that grabs your attention. It’s delicious and a bit “louder” than the softer 2015. Both are lovely but have different personalities that suite them to slightly different things.
Aroma: The 2017 Galichets has a lovely and powerful aroma of blackcurrant, wild blueberry, ripe bing cherry, a little bit of cocoa powder, and a hint of basil leaf. The smell is similar to the 2015 but juicier; the fruit is a little more vivid and juicy.
Taste: juicy lovely ripe red cherry with a little bit of cranberry, then currant followed by black pepper on the mid palate, then some black raspberry and plum with a touch of chocolate flavor as these finely textured and gentle but lingering tannins come in and round out the pallet. This is beautiful, so elegant, so thoughtful, and so delicious. It's a little bit bigger and the fruit is a little juicier than the 2015 but with the same sense of style.

Domaine de Chevalerie 2015 Galichets
Approximately $32

The 2015 Galichets took a few moments to open up but once it did it was so beautiful and effortlessly lovely; like a cloud. All the components melded together into more than the sum of their parts. It was a good demonstration of how special Chevalerie is; the wine isn’t super complicated but it has a balance and finesse that I hardly ever experience. It’s so seamless that you just enjoy it and the wine makes it all seem easy.
Aroma: interesting combination of bright fresh fruit and dark woodsy aromas. Fresh raspberry, a little bit of cranberry, some plum, a gentle aroma of some kind of aromatic herb that's a little peppery - maybe along the lines of basil. But then also there's a dark brambly sort of aroma that makes me think of old wood, walnut oil, and a little old leather. The aromas are all really well integrated and it pretty clearly demonstrates what it is a lovely mature beautifully integrated serious red wine
Taste: fresh raspberry, some red currant, cranberry, a little boysenberry? Juicy friendly playful red fruit with energetic acidity followed by some tasty salinity and a lovely supple texture. Black pepper and some black currant slides in followed up by some vivid black raspberry on the finish with perfectly weighted mature and gentle tannin. This is what I love about these wines: the flavors are beautifully integrated and balanced. It's complex but really works so well together and is more than some of those parts. This is lighter and I’d try to pair with food that wouldn’t detract from how beautiful and integrated it is.

At the very top of the Peu Muleau vineyard up against the wood with the Loire down to my left.

Chevalerie Cuvee Chevalerie 2018
Approximately $45/btl

Chevalerie: the eponymously named old vine vineyard right next to the winery. Clay over deep limestone tuffeau. 2018 was an unusually warm and dry vintage here which resulted in a bigger than usual wine, but it works and is delicious. The grapes ripened and built up concentration while they were ripening phenolically so the wine is 14.5% but it’s integrated and balanced. Coco was spot on in comparing it to Barbaresco in how it has elegance and pretty aromatics balanced by depth and richness.
Aroma: Vivid and juicy smelling with deep dark fresh blackberry, a little bit of black currant and black cherry. Behind the fruit there’s little bit of wintergreen, some dried cherry, definitely some wild blueberry as well. Dark and juicy and concentrated and driven by juicy and intense fruit.
Taste: juicy rich and deep: it's a mouthful! Juicy and concentrated ripe blackberry up front, with overtones of black pepper and basil. It's sunny and intense and the mid palate gets deeper with cherry that's still bright but at the same time also a hint of spicy menthol under the black cherry and cracked black pepper. The wine has acidity that keeps the fruit fresh and vibrant and holds up well to it's density and richness. The tannins are serious and firm and lingering but the texture of them is still finely grained. It's still classic Chevalerie in profile but bigger and more powerful, more fruit and heft.

Chevalerie Cuvee 2014 Breteche
Approximately $37

The Breteche has pretty similar soil to the Chevalerie vineyard but the vines are younger. This vintage is lovely and a really classic Chevalerie wine to me.
Aroma: dark and elegant black currant, black raspberry, dark chocolate cake. The aroma is dark but fruit driven and juicy. It's inviting and beautiful and really draws you in. Not in a literally floral -smells like flowers- kind of way but it is a really beautiful and big inviting aroma
Taste: bright juicy and fruit forward, this one has acidity that makes the fruit sort of pop and grab your palate. It's sleekly textured but really vivid and energetic with raspberry/strawberry fruit up front, then some bright snappy red cherry alongside some deeper gravelly mineral flavors. Then firm but mature tannin comes in alongside more beautiful preserved strawberry flavors. The wine is lovely but it's a little bit more racy and high toned then the other cuvees I've tasted out of this release and I feel like this has more aging potential than some of the others… but I love drinking it now for the complexity of flavors.

This is my favorite picture from the visit. It’s a terrible picture of me but I don’t care because it captures Laurie’s energy so well!

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