Domaine de Chevalier, 2014 Update
Few vineyards will convince you that you have arrived in Graves more than that which surrounds Domaine de Chevalier, where the vines are anchored in a bed of grey-white gravelly soil. The contrast is most stark in winter, after the leaves have dropped, when the dark trunks and branches, all thickened and contorted with age, are silhouetted against the pale, gravelly soils. Even in summer though, when the vines are verdant and green (as pictured below), the pale and gravelly nature of the soils is evident for all to see.
These gravels extend far beyond the vineyard into the surrounding woodland, as I discovered a few years ago when, in the hunt for a new photographic angle on the domaine, I managed to lose my way in the woods next to the estate. The tracks which criss-cross the woodland are all covered in the same dry grey-white gravel which, as I drove over it, released great plumes of pale grey dust into the air. I was immediately struck by the untapped viticultural potential of this land. These trees could, I wondered, perhaps one day be replaced by the vine? Yes, although this would not be an easy process; first, permission would almost certainly be required to uproot the trees, and second there is the small matter of the labour itself.
Nevertheless, removal of some trees was part of the work Olivier Bernard undertook when he started out at Domaine de Chevalier in 1983. I recently visited the estate to meet up with Olivier, to taste some of his wines, and to learn more about his work at the domaine as well as his new project in Sauternes, Clos des Lunes. The latter I have already discussed in some detail in my Clos des Lunes profile, so here I focus purely on Olivier Bernard and Domaine de Chevalier.Please log in to continue reading: