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.
The harvest for the 2009 Cheval Blanc began in mid-September and finished on October 8. One of this estate’s greatest wines, the 2009 (58% Merlot and 42% Cabernet Franc) came in at 13.5% natural alcohol (some lots were as high as 14.5%). The wine exhibits sumptuous aromatics of subtle menthol intermixed with caramel, black raspberries, mulberries, kirsch, and cassis. With a stupendous opulence and a fleshy mouthfeel, but no heaviness or fatigue, this dense wine is staggeringly concentrated, very full-bodied, powerful, and silky-smooth. Irresistible already, it is almost frightening to think how compelling this beauty should be in a few years.
98-100 points, Wine Advocate
Such a dreamy, perfumed aroma to this wine. Full-bodied, but wonderfully polished and integrated. It touches every millimeter of your palate and the texture makes you want to cry. It touches your soul. Goes on for minutes. Another perfect red?
97-100 points, Wine Spectator
Chateau Cheval Blanc is archetypal and reminiscent of the 1982 vintage. The Cabernet Franc really shines through in this wine. Typically it showed lead pencil/graphite/cassis aromas with some roasted notes, sinewy long tannins, brilliant fruit density and spicy nuances. This wine is still elemental, but has a compelling lasting power
95-99 points, Langton's, 2010
Deep garnet colored, the 2009 Cheval Blanc offers up profound notions of baked blueberries, blackberry compote and crème de cassis with suggestions of chocolate mint, new leather and cloves plus a waft of candied violets. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is an exercise in elegance with very classy, super fine-grained tannins, beautiful freshness and layer upon layer of mineral-laced blue and black fruits, finishing long and perfumed.
100 points, Wine Advocate (March 2019)
Deep garnet colored, the 2009 Cheval Blanc is a little closed at the moment, revealing notes of plum preserves, chocolate-covered cherries, baked blackberries and spice cake with touches of star anise, sandalwood and tapenade plus a waft of unsmoked cigars. The rich, full-bodied palate is rock solid at this youthful stage, with firm grainy tannins and tons of freshness supporting the generous, relatively savory/earthy fruit, finishing with long-lingering exotic spice notions.
99 points, Wine Advocate (September 2018)
Utter perfection in wine, the 2009 Chateau Cheval Blanc is the complete opposite of the 2010 and has soaring, complex aromatics, an expansive, sexy, full-bodied texture, and building, yet sweet tannin. Kirsch, currants, incense, exotic spices and leather nuances all emerge from this almost over the top, heavenly 2009 that carries its wealth of fruit and extravagant personality perfectly. It’s young but, good lord, is it good.
100 points, JebDunnuck.com (December 2017)
Reminding me a little of the 2015, the 2009 Chateau Cheval Blanc is another powerful yet elegant wine that tops out on my scale. A huge nose of kirsch, cassis, flowery spices, forest floor, and tobacco all give way to a full-bodied, sweetly fruited 2009 that has no hard edges, perfect balance, integrated, perfectly ripe tannins, and a finish that won’t quit. It’s one of those magical wines that carries enormous richness and depth yet stays weightless and ethereal on the palate. Bravo!
100 points, JebDunnuck.com (June 2019)
This is ethereal. The nose is so perfumed and beautiful, with dried flowers, fresh mint, blueberries and plums that follow through to a full body and incredible power of super fine tannins. It's almost like a Romanee-Conti in texture and length. The fresh acidity makes it bright. It's all about texture. 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc.
99 points, JamesSuckling.com (March 2012)
The 2009 Cheval Blanc has a rambunctious nose with copious red fruit, meat juices, sage and crushed stone aromas, ineffably complex. This is so refined, constantly mutating in the glass. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, saturated tannin. There is a mixture of red and black fruit, hints of cassis, cardamom and allspice. Immense depth and grip towards the finish expresses ripe Cabernet Franc. This is an outstanding 2009 destined for long-term ageing. Tasted blind at Farr Vintners’ 2009 Bordeaux tasting.
98 points, Vinous (March 2019)
Dense, brooding and richly coated, with a well of steeped black currant, fig paste and roasted plum fruit to draw on while the layers of charcoal, Kenya AA coffee and loam resolve themselves. This displays both breadth and depth, offering a great undercurrent of acidity to match its heft. Should be among the most long-lived wines of the vintage.
98 points, Wine Spectator (March 2012)
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.