Domaine de Chevalier was relatively late to arrive on the Bordeaux wine scene. In 1865, Arnaud and Jean Ricard acquired this small property on the outskirts of the Lande pine forest in Pessac-Leognan. For years it lay in disuse, overgrown with pine trees, but the Ricards made it their mission to plant vines. Jean was the first to take control of the vineyard and immediately began by planting both red and white varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The vineyard thrived under Ricard, but it was his son-in-law, Gabriel Beaumartin, who really helped it bloom. The Ricard family's tenure at Chevalier ended officially in 1983, after it was sold to Olivier Bernard, but many of the descendants of Jean Ricard still work at the property today, continuing the family tradition. Under Bernard's guidance the property has steadily climbed the ranks and is now one of the top wines in Pessac Leognan, both the whites and the reds.
When the Ricards bought the property in 1865, the vineyard was less than 20 hectares, today it has more than doubled in size. The red vineyard -- 37 hectares -- is planted to 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The smaller, white vineyard is planted to 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon. Deep, gravelly soil allows the vines to drink deep, producing a delightful mineral complexity in the wines. The white, known as the third of the 'big three' white Graves, with Haut-Brion and Laville Haut-Brion, is aged a full 18 months in barrel and is produced in small quantity -- only 1200 cases a year. The red wine is emphatically traditional. Often quite lean in its youth, it has a restrained, Cabernet-dominated personality that requires cellaring to reveal its cedar and tobacco leaf complexity.