Sunday, August 24, 2008

Domaine de Chevalier 2003

The hot Bordeaux 2003 vintage. I will never forget our visit to Saint-Emilion on 8 August 2003, when the thermometer rose up to 43 degrees Celsius (almost 110 degrees Fahrenheit). We made a short walk through a vineyard close to Château Matras, and I remember feeling sorry for the vines − it was so shamelessly hot in those shadeless fields...

Shriveled berries in 2003 around MatrasSAINT-EMILION 2003: SHRIVELLED BERRIES AROUND CHATEAU MATRAS (AND ALSO A HEALTHIER BUNCH ON THE RIGHT)

The hot Bordeaux 2003 vintage. More popular in the US than in Europe it seems. From ripe and round and Mediterranean, to cooked and green and unhealthy. Green? Yes. A vine seriously lacking water locks up, and the berries don't properly ripen anymore (called water stress). You end up with green stuff that gets sunburnt. Very different from the taste of physiologically ripe fruit.

This week I experienced (again) how wonderful a 2003 can be. The money that I had earned from working at Château du Tertre in 2006 I fully 'reinvested' in a pile of cases: Bordeauxs from the vintages 2004, 2003 and 2001 which I found at E.Leclerc in Parempuyre (great name for this small town close to Margaux). Among the 2003s that I bought (and recently tasted) were the Margaux cru classés Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry 2003 (not really exciting), Château Dauzac 2003 (quite good) and... the Pessac-Léognan − cru classé de graves − Domaine de Chevalier 2003. Very good!

Domaine de Chevalier 2003 Pessac-Leognan
Some wine professional suffering from occupational disability might reject this wine for its lack of fruit. A fact, but here we ought to look further. This is a kind of peculiarity that I find very exciting.

So what did I encounter? In the nose ripeness and toast (and indeed, no refreshing fruit). Strange enough it is like there is warmth in the juice − merely a sensation, as we tasted the wine at a proper 18 degrees. The wine is full-bodied and very smooth. And in spite of this smoothness, the wine clings to the mouth, resulting in a very long finish, with spiced cookies and sweet liquorice, etcetera... very delicious!

And apparently another Stéphane Derenoncourt achievement. Too bad that only one more bottle remains in my cellar. The consolation: there is Chevalier 2006 and 2007 in my shop. My apologies for this salesman-alike twist at the end of this posting, I don't know if it really makes sense, but well, perhaps it is interesting to know that these beauties are for sale.

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