Chevalier-Montrachet is one of five grand cru vineyards on the Mont-Rachet hill at the very southern end of the Côte d'Or. Like all of the top vineyards in this part of the Côte de Beaune, Chevalier-Montrachet is planted to Chardonnay, and makes structured, full-bodied white wines that are often regarded as the ultimate expression of the variety.
The climat, located on the southeast-facing mid-slope of the hill, is the highest grand cru site in Puligny-Montrachet, rising to 985ft (300m) above sea level. The prestigious Montrachet vineyard is on the slope directly below, with Bâtard-Montrachet below that. The hillside above the site is covered with forest, and the climats to the north and the south are either premier cru or village-level sites. Chevalier-Montrachet covers about 7.3 hectares (18 acres) of land, and is one of only two grand cru vineyards to be located entirely within the commune boundaries of Puligny-Montrachet.
The Chevalier-Montrachet site owes its terroir to its position high on the slope. The limestone-based soil is much thinner than that in Montrachet below, and has a higher proportion of marl. The poor soil here allows the vines easy access to the subtle mineral components of the limestone substrata below, and forces them to grow strong, healthy roots as anchors. Chevalier also benefits from excellent drainage, which further encourages root development, resulting in a higher quality of fruit and more complex wines. As well as imparting mineral qualities to Chevalier-Montrachet wines, the limestone in the soils is credited with reflecting light back up to the vine canopy. This helps the grapes to reach optimal phenolic ripeness, largely influenced by the site's south-easterly aspect that gives it full access to the morning sunshine.
These grapes tend to be intense and concentrated, and translate into high-quality, balanced wines that can be aged for many years. Chevalier-Montrachet is often considered to make some of the best grand cru white wines in Burgundy, second only to Montrachet itself.
Chevalier-Montrachet was given grand cru status in 1937, but has been planted to vine for centuries. The name of the site, which refers to "the knight of Montrachet", fits together with several other vineyards in the area. It tells the story of a local nobleman, the Seigneur de Puligny who is thought to have divided his estate between his illegitimate son (the bâtard, or bastard), his daughters (les pucelles, or the maidens), and his eldest son, the Chevalier.