On the Trail

2015 Bordeaux Value from Pessac-Leognan

David Driscoll

It was our last night in Bordeaux. We had been tasting non-stop for nine straight days. Our tongues were tired. Our guts were bloated. Our nerves were worn down and raw to the touch. Yet, somehow someway, we managed to pull ourselves together for one last dinner and tasting event: a spectacular affair at one of the preeminent Pessac-Leognan producers, Domaine de Chevalier. Since I first started working at K&L I've had a love affair with these wines; perhaps the white wine even more so than the red. The wines of the Graves region in Bordeaux have an incredible mineral character that permeates through both styles of wine, but I think I appreciate it most in the sauvignon blanc/semillon blends. 

There's something more down to earth about the wines of Pessac-Leognan, something more gritty and real. I can't quite explain what it is. It's not quite working class as no one would consider a $400 bottle of first-growth Haut-Brion a blue-collar purchase, but it just seems like the wines are more down-to-earth to the taste. The rocky, gravel-rich soils of the region infuse the grapes with a rugged character, a dynamic sense of gusto that real speaks to me when I drink the wines. That's not to say there aren't values in the Graves, however. It was on this night in particular that I discovered what I think might be my personal white wine of the vintage.

We were gathered around the table, getting ready to enjoy the first course, when a glass of 2015 Lespault-Martillac Blanc was poured for me. "There were only 4,000 cases we made of this," Oliver Bernard said to me as I nosed the glass. After asking what the property was, I was told that Domaine de Chevalier had purchased the nearby estate less than a decade ago and began making wine there with the 2009 vintage. It's the same winemaking team making similar wines, just from a different property. The wine was stunning. It was gorgeous. It was textural and rich, mineral-laden and graceful. It was everything I love about Domaine de Chevalier Blanc, just a little bit different. "What does it sell for in comparson?" I asked curiously. When I heard "less than thirty dollars" I about spit out my mouthful. I've been waiting for the wine to be released since returning home the next day.

The red, while not quite the incredible deal the white is, is still like a baby version of Domaine de Chevalier Rouge. The palate was pretty with red currants, subtle oak, and a plump mouthfeel that was dominated by the merlot with that classic Graves mineral note on the finish. The 2015 is currently selling on pre-arrival for even less than the white. I just bought six bottles of each before typing this up. 2015 is actually quite full of values like these and I'm ready to pounce on every single one of them.

-David Driscoll