|Grapes||Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc|
|Sub-district||Saint Emilion & Satellites|
|Classification||1er Grand Cru Classé|
59.5% Merlot, 37.2% Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon 3.3%. The Cheval Blanc team were keen to point out how warm it had been in the first half of the year, as well as how very wet. They quoted 800mm of rain in the first six months (although it was less than this in the northern Médoc, the range seems to have been 7-900mm, with the right bank being at the upper end. The point is that this is a vintage where terroir matters, and of course CB is a great terroir. Quite dumb on the nose; there's harmony, but it's quiet. Rich and smoothly supple, dryly mouthfilling sophisticated dark, (black) fruit. Very very embryonic. Coal-dusted and mineral, intense, fleshy, but so cool and dry. Very hard to judge this, but it seems to have great potential. A long stain of fruit remains. Is it really this good? I think so. Drinking range: 2032 - 2050 Rating: 94-96 L&S (Apr 2017)
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The grand vin 2016 Château Cheval Blanc checks in as 60% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in new barrels, and this is the first year a replanted block of Cabernet Sauvignon has made the top cuvée. Compared to the 2001 by Pierre Lurton, it displays stunning aromatic fireworks with notions of blackcurrants, forest floor, iron bar, graphite, and spice all soaring from the glass. It develops more floral nuances with time in the glass and, as always with this cuvée, it’s all about complexity and elegance. More medium to full-bodied, with beautiful tannins and perfect balance, it’s a decidedly classic, focused, elegant wine from this estate that will keep for 3-4 decades. Drinking range: 2023 - 2063 Rating: 97 Jeb Dunnuck, www.jebdunnuck.com(Feb 2019)
This has turned into a very dense wine, with waves of cassis, plum reduction and blackberry paste forming the core. Wrapped tightly in layers of tobacco and loam for now, while singed alder, incense, black tea and bergamot notes peek in here and there. The finish rumbles like thunder for now, with the swath of tannins, and there’s just a twinge of drought-induced austerity. But there’s acidity and drive too, and this will cruise in the cellar for some time. Drinking range: 2025 - 2045 Rating: 97 James Molesworth, The Wine Spectator(Jan 2019)
The 2016 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 59% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and (the return of) 3% Cabernet Sauvignon from the gravel soils since in this vintage the vines showed absolutely no stress. It delivers 14.25% alcohol with an IPT of 75 and a pH 3.67, which Pierre Lurton told me is a little lower than normal. As usual, it is matured in 100% new oak. It has a very pure, correct and quite penetrating bouquet with black cherries, blackcurrant, graphite and a touch of wild mint. It is bashful at first but opens with confidence with aeration (incidentally, I allowed my sample 40 minutes to open). The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin and a killer line of acidity that imparts so much freshness from the starting gun. That soupçon on Cabernet Sauvignon does make a difference, lending a subtle vein of graphite that runs throughout the wine. It remains linear, with laser-like focus towards the extraordinarily persistent finish, pencil lead on the "HB" aftertaste. This is a classic and intellectual Cheval Blanc, not as charming perhaps as the 2015 Cheval Blanc, but it will unquestionably age gracefully over decades not years. Drinking range: 2024 - 2060 Rating: 97-99 Neal Martin, www.vinous.com(Apr 2017)
Château Cheval Blanc
Château Cheval Blanc sits at the pinnacle of the St Emilion meritocracy, unarguably alongside Château Ausone and arguably alongside Château Angélus and Château Pavie, the two estates elevated to Premier Grand Cru Classé (A) status in 2012. But, whilst the other three are clustered around the village of St Emilion, Cheval Blanc is far to the north-west and possibly only a St Emilion by accident of human geography. This is not classic St Emilion limestone and clay territory, Château Cheval Blanc (and neighbouring Figeac) sits on the gravel band that benefits its northerly neighbours across the road and across the border in Pomerol, namely Château Conseillante and Château l’Evangile. Next door Château Figeac was once a mighty estate of some 200ha, but by the early 19th Century the extravagances of the Comtesse de Carle-Trajet had taken their toll and large portions of the estate had to be sold off. Jean-Jacques Ducasse bought a plot of Figeac in 1832, and then a little bit more; his son-in-law, Jean Laussac-Fourcaud bought some more; and by 1871 Château Cheval Blanc had been carved out of the Figeac estate. Initially the wine was still sold as Château Figeac but from 1852 the name Château Cheval Blanc was used. The Laussac-Fourcaud family, morphing into the Fourcaud-Laussac family, owned Cheval Blanc until 1998. With the first classification of St Emilion’s vineyards in 1954, Cheval Blanc and Château Ausone were given special status as Premier Grand Cru Classé (A). New owners in 1998 brought Pierre Lurton in to manage Château Cheval Blanc, something he does alongside managing Château Yquem. A new space-age looking winery was completed in 2011. The 39ha of vineyards are planted to 58% Cabernet Franc and 42% Merlot, with an average age of 40 years. They were augmented by a 1.4ha block added from Château Tour du Pin in 2012. Another block of vines from Tour du Pin appear to be destined for white wine production.
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