Cheval Blanc is considered the greatest wine of Saint-Émillion, and shares a worldwide reputation comparable to any Bordeaux First Growth (and therefore any wine on earth). Being Right Bank-situated, no wines from the region were included in the original 1855 classification of Bordeaux, but Saint-Émillion devised its own ranking system 100 years later - one that is considered incredibly robust and up-to-date, due to its regular re-appraisal.
Cheval Blanc has been ranked as a Premier Grand Cru Classe (A) - the highest possible - since the inception of the classification.
The property borders Pomerol on one side, often drawing commentators into describing Cheval Blanc as combining the best of the two: having the richness and opulence of Pomerol tempered by Saint-Émillion’s unique elegance and poise.
The wine is generally led by Cabernet Franc, followed by the signature Merlot of Saint-Émillion.
…another great bottle of Cheval Blanc… The bouquet is vibrant and animated with scents of kirsch, macerated red cherries, a smear of boot polish and sloes. It is hedonistic yet controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with a slight viscosity on the entry, retaining the lavishness and opulence that distinguishes it from the rest. There is plenty of glycerine towards the finish and you can see it cruising along for the next decade or two without losing its glow. 95 points, Wine Journal (2014).
Very enticing. A gorgeous, creamy wine with masses of prune juice-like fruit. A decadent fruit bomb. 19.5/20 points, Decanter (1997).
Penetrating aromas of strawberry jam, raspberry, red cherry, orange peel, flowers and minerals. Enters bright, dense and linear, with very pure flavours of red cherry, citrus, minerals, marzipan and subtle herbs. Finishes very long and pure, with a strong peppery note, a lingering coffee nuance, and chewy, mounting tannins. Complex and multilayered, this is a very impressive wine, magically combining fleshy depth and pure aromas and flavours without being overripe or heavy. I was told in the past by a local wine lover and expert that the 1982 Cheval Blanc actually contains 5% Malbec in the final blend, but nobody can confirm this at the estate… A very famous, much sought-after wine... 96 points, Ian d’Agata, International Wine Cellar (2011).
I have tasted this wine at least four or five times in the last two months and it is clearly classic… gorgeous with such pure and bright fruit. It showed aromas of dried cherries and mushrooms that turn to sliced ripe plums. It’s full with round and ripe tannins, and a long, long finish. 96 points, jamessuckling.com (2012).
All in harmony. Deserves its reputation. Dark ruby. Smoke, black truffle, berry and cherry. Full-bodied, velvety and fine. 96 points (2001).
St.-Émilion is the star of Bordeaux’s Right Bank, north of the Dordogne River. The rich red wines produced in St.-Émilion, based on Merlot and Cabernet Franc, are less tannic and generally more fruit-driven in flavour than the Cabernet-based wines of Left Bank. Merlot thrives on the plateaus high above the Dordogne, where the soil is filled with sand and clay, a perfect medium for creating opulent, fruit-forward wines. With a typically savoury character, St.-Émilion wines are sometimes called the “Burgundies of Bordeaux.” These refined reds, with loads of finesse, are elegant companions to beef, chicken, pork and duck.
The wines of St.-Émilion were not included in the famous 1855 classification of Bordeaux, which ranked wines of the Left Bank. In 1955, St.-Émilion published its own classification, based on soil analysis, wine quality and reputation of the properties. Unlike the 1855 classification, St.-Emilion’s system requires properties to continuously prove themselves. The list is revised regularly, most recently in 2012. There are two tiers within the classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé and Grand Cru Classé. There are currently just 18 Premier Grand Cru properties and 64 Grand Cru Classé properties.
The St.-Émilion appellation is home to hundreds of individual producers, enhancing the variety of wines made there. Many of the properties remain small, family-run enterprises, unlike the large châteaux of the Left Bank. The area is also the base of France’s controversial micro-châteaux or garagiste wine movement; these innovative winemakers operate outside the traditional classification system, making very high quality (and very expensive) highly extracted wines.