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Chevalier-Montrachet


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Chevalier-Montrachet is one of the five Grands Crus of the Montrachet areas. Its 18.5 acres of vineyard surface are located entirely within Puligny-Montrachet. The wine produced is often compared to Montrachet, and is very similar in style, but is often slightly leaner in its youth and as a result less famous. But with age, these wines become quite intriguing and show their own complex character.

Chevalier-Montrachet wines possess many characteristics common to the Montrachet areas in general: a layered richness that is only slightly sweet, if not completely dry; a powerful but elegant style in which the wine is produced; and excellent aging potential. In fact, some Chevaliers may have better aging potential than standard Montrachets, as they evolve more and become highly refined while aging.

Aside from the leaner character imparted by the steeper slopes of Chevalier-Montrachet vineyards, Chevalier-Montrachet wines are very similar to those of the genuine Montrachet appellation. And for many people the greater complexity and backwardness of the Chevalier-Montrachets make them more intriguing. As a result, despite its less famous reputation, Chevalier-Montrachet is worth Grand Cru level and its place among the greatest white wine designations of the world.

History

Like the other Montrachet Grand Crus, Chevalier-Montrachet was given recognition as such in 1937. Unfairly, it has always been somewhat in the shadow of Montrachet; this is largely because the white wines produced there are slightly less exciting in their youth and in general have to be aged more for the Montrachet character to come out.

Wine buyers soon figured out, however, that the slightly less expensive wines of Chevalier-Montrachet were worth just as much as Montrachets, and as a result Chevalier-Montrachet now commands prices nearly as high. In 1976, at the landmark Judgement of Paris, both Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet were snubbed in favor of a 1973 California Chardonnay, and Chevalier-Montrachet was dragged down along with all white Burgundy. As a result, producers have improved their game and recent Chevalier-Montrachet vintages have been getting increasingly better.

Climate and Viticulture

The outstanding weather conditions in Chevalier-Montrachet, as well as the protection from the wind afforded by the hill, make for wine almost as excellent as that of the neighboring Montrachet. The main difference between the two is apparently the slope of the hill that they are situated on. Montrachet has perfect slopes that make for wine of just the right richness and character, but Chevalier-Montrachet's slopes are more acute, meaning that the wine is less explosively rich.

During their youth, Chevalier-Montrachets are for this reason much more powerful and intense. But soon enough the sense of terroir will come through in the wine, making for a character of fruit equally fascinating to the more famous Montrachet. While it never really has as much richness or power as Montrachet, the difference in Chevalier-Montrachet is slight, and the wine produced is usually of an extremely similar style.

Grape Varieties

Major Producers

There are several outstanding boutique producers in Chevalier-Montrachet, notably Domaine d'Auvenay, but we choose to list here the producers that are available, rather than wines prized mostly for their collectibility. Since there is much great Chevalier-Montrachet, it is an appellation that can be relied upon most of the time. But here is a list of eight Chevalier-Montrachet producers that we consider to be world-class.

Subregions

There are no Chevalier-Montrachet "satellites". In fact, Chevalier-Montrachet has no subregions of any kind. However, there are certain producers that label their wines with what are apparently further distinguishing names, perhaps so that they can produce several different Chevalier-Montrachets from different parts of the vineyard or using different styles of production. These names are fairly generic, and the Chevalier-Montrachet name is what is really important. An explanation of the names and what producers use them can be found in the producers section.