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CHÂTEAU CHEVAL BLANC

2016 1er Grand Cru Classé Saint Emilion

Grapes Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv
Colour Red
Origin France, Bordeaux
Sub-district Saint Emilion & Satellites
Village Saint Emilion
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: 97-97 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.robertparker.com(Apr 2017)

The property is divided into 45 different plots and each plot has made some grand vin in the last five years. This is from 33 plots. 38% Cabernet Franc, 59% Merlot. The remaining 3% is Cabernet Sauvignon, from a parcel that has been replanted with Cabernet Franc successively. But they have decided to recover this gravelly plot by the road to St-Émilion with Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the first year it's in the grand vin as a reflection of the traditional assemblage of Cheval Blanc. Tasty floral start and then quite rich. A bit of grainy astringency (from those concrete vats?) in terms of texture - by no means unpleasant. Lots of floral notes, hint of putty and then lovely richness underneath. Quite a contrast between nose and palate. Smudgy palate and precise nose. Tannins really present on the end. Very floral on the nose. Big gap! Not sweet!! Drinking range: 2028 - 2045 Rating: 18.5+ Jancis Robinson MW OBE - www.JancisRobinson.com(Apr 2017)

This is very powerful Cheval with searing tannins and bright fruit, acidity and mineral undertones. Full and muscular yet beautifully formed and polished. It’s all about the form to this. Better than 2015. Rating: 98-99 James Suckling, www.jamessuckling.com(Apr 2017)

Another excellent Cheval, this is a wine that every year stands among the greatest in the region. The main impression is of a softly-spun silky texture with complete focus and clarity through the palate. There is some of the density of 2010 here, with the florality of 2005. Gorgeous. Many people spent a long time picking in 2016, but at Cheval Blanc everything came in within just 10 days, rather unusually picking grapes on gravel and clay at the same time. The blend is 59% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% new oak. Drinking range: 2027 - 2050 Rating: 98 Jane Anson, Decanter(Apr 2017)

A wine of precision and extraordinary beauty, the 2016 Cheval Blanc is also one of the highlights of the year. In the glass, it is precise, delicate and understated. Hints of espresso, plum, spice and wild cherry all develop in the glass, but it is the wine's feel and vivid personality that stand out most. I expect the 2016 will put on weight during its aging, both in barrel and later in bottle. It is an absolutely stunning wine in every way. Rating: 96-99 Antonio Galloni, www.vinous.com(Apr 2017)

Cabernet Sauvignon makes a (small) appearance in the Grand Vin for the first time in ten years at Cheval in 2016. It’s a suitably dense, grippy, well-structured wine, with fine, savoury tannins, taut acidity, layers of dark plum and blackberry fruit and stylish oak. Drinking range: 2028 - 2040 Rating: 97 Tim Atkin MW, www.timatkin.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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