We have always enjoyed the Chevaliers’ Les Pends Crozes-Hermitage and ranked it among the top white wines of the appellation, but clearly Nicolas and Marlène’s Domaine Chevalier 2017 Les Pends further raises the bar; the 2017 Les Pends is unequivocally the finest white wine from Crozes-Hermitage we have tasted in years. The wine’s sun-kissed golden hue first caught our eye, but the wine’s enticing potpourri and spice box aromas and flavors truly sealed the deal. The term “hedonism in a glass” was uttered more than once by our panel members as the redolence of honeysuckle, summer flowers, exotic fruits, and soft intoxicating spice tones flowed from the glass to grace the nose and palate. In the mouth, the 2017 Les Pends expands exponentially, revealing a seductive mélange of fruit, spice, and juicy acidity. The superb harmony and texture of this 100% Marsanne wine places it in a league of its own. Although the 2017 Les Pends has not yet been reviewed by the major wine magazines, the 2017 Les Pends is a clear stand-out, eclipsing even Chevalier’s excellent 2010 and 2013 Les Pends, wines with multiple 90+ ratings. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest allowing the 2017 Les Pends to breathe a few minutes before consuming it moderately chilled (about 40° F). However, some members may prefer this wine even less chilled, but as you like it! Salut!
The finest white wines of the northern Rhône such as Domaine Chevalier’s 2017 Les Pends Crozes-Hermitage Blanc age well and offer splendid accompaniments to rich foods. Foie gras, terrines, cured meats, and the herbed infused fish and vegetable dishes so prominent in the cooking of southern France offer excellent choices to pair with this wine. Prosciutto wrapped honeydew melon makes a good starter. A shrimp and avocado salad and a spicy chicken salad made with, apple, coriander, and pecans also provide delightful accompaniments to this wine. Lobster and crab make great partners to the 2017 Les Pends, too. Many Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese specialties will provide excellent complements to the 2017 Chevalier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc as well. Fresh Spring Rolls and Hunan dishes prepared with tasty sauces offer exemplary complements. Although white Rhône wine is not traditionally thought of as a sit around sipping kind of wine, the Chevalier’s 2017 Les Pends Blanc provides a notable exception, especially when ripe pears or a few morsels of soft creamy cheeses are available to accompany it. Enjoy!
The brother and sister team of Marlène and Nicolas Chevalier farm a mere 3.5 acres of prime vineyards in Crozes-Hermitage, from which they make several outstanding white and red Rhône offerings. Although diminutive in size, Domaine Chevalier is large in stature: its wines have been garnering acclaim for more than three centuries and its red and white Crozes-Hermitage offerings remain benchmarks by which the wines of Crozes-Hermitage are measured.
The Chevaliers specialize in two grape varietals at their meticulously tended estate: Marsanne for white wine and Syrah for red wine, from which they fashion two white wines and two red wines in tiny lots from individual sites. Each is a singular expression of either Marsanne or Syrah. In the case of the Chevaliers’ 2017 Crozes-Hermitage Les Pends Blanc (this month’s feature), only a fraction of the 700+ cases of this wine ever come across the pond. Our club members and a couple of renowned restaurants in the United States are the primary American recipients of this rare Rhône wine.
Nicolas Chevalier has traveled far and wide in his young life to hone extraordinary winemaking skills. After completing studies in agronomy and enology in France, he headed to South Australia’s Clare Valley where he mastered various techniques for fermenting Shiraz (Syrah). He then set sail for California where he worked with Kendall Jackson in perfecting his white winemaking skills. And if those two stints were not enough post-graduate work, Nicolas traveled to South Africa in 2002 to work at the legendary three hundred year old Boschendal estate in Stellenbosch, a winery renowned for its superb Syrah based wines.
All of Domaine Chevalier’s fruit is hand harvested and only new Allier oak is ever employed in the upbringing of the estate’s wines. Great pains are taken by the Chevaliers to protect the environment, which means sustainable agricultural practices prevail. The result is a bevy of rare and unique wines of splendid character, depth, and definition. While Nicolas tends the vineyards and fashions each cuvee, Marlène handles all of the sales and marketing for Domaine Chevalier. Together, they provide the fortunate few a glimpse of authentic Crozes-Hermitage.
Crozes-Hermitage is located halfway between Lyon and Marseille, astride the swift flowing Rhône River as it makes haste to the Mediterranean. Its neighbors are Côte-Rôtie and the more famous appellation of Hermitage from which it draws its name as well as its spiritual calling. Crozes-Hermitage is the largest of the northern Rhône wine appellations with just over 3,000 acres. The climate is continental, unlike its counterparts in the southern Rhône, which means winters are cold and often wet, while summers are typically long and hot. The soil is a mixture of clay, sand, gravel, and highly prized galets roulés, the long and flat stones that are most synonymous with Châteauneuf-du-Pape to the south. The climate and composition of the soil make the region’s grapes dig deep into the ground. Syrah is the most densely planted varietal in Crozes-Hermitage and the only legal red grape in the appellation. Marsanne and Roussanne are the two permitted white grape varietals. Although traditionally known for its full-bodied red wines, Crozes-Hermitage is today as highly regarded for its complex, aromatic white wines.
Enjoy Limited Production Estate
Discover limited production estate bottled wines such as Vergenoegd's internationally
acclaimed 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, imported exclusively for our members.