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 blueberry and blackberry character and bouquet of violets is off the charts. Full body, the Cabernet Franc dominates the blend now, with so much dark fruits, minerals and flowers with hints of spices. It is a very powerful and linear CB and shows amazing length and purity. Zen-like focus. 99-100 points, jamessuckling.com
The aroma in this wine is crazy with flowers, mushroom, forest floor, and fruit. It seems like I am walking through a row of the vines in Cheval Blanc when I have my nose in the glass. It's full-bodied, with fabulous layers of ultra-fine tannins and milk chocolate, raspberries, and a phenomenal finish. Truly one of the greatest Chevals ever. Better than 2009. Try in 2020. 100 points, jamessuckling.com (2/2013).
The 2010 Cheval Blanc contains 13.8% alcohol, which is very high for this estate, and has an unusually high percentage of Cabernet Franc in the final blend (56% versus 44% Merlot). Yields were tiny, adding to the richness and intensity already instilled by the drought of summer and resulting in tiny berries. In the style of some of the great Cheval Blancs of the late 1940s, this wine is rich, opulent, full-bodied, and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, as saturated purple in colour as any Cheval Blanc I have seen. Mulberries, blackcurrants, fresh minerals, and floral notes jump from the glass of this full-bodied, dense wine. With its tannins, good acidity and surprisingly modest pH, this should be an exceptionally long-lived wine, more backward and delineated than the fatter, more opulent 2009. Drink it over the next 30+ years – 2011-2041. 96-98+ points, Wine Advocate.
The 2010 is one of the most impressive two-year-old Cheval Blancs I have tasted in 34 years in this profession. The final blend of 54% Cabernet Franc and 46% Merlot has the tell-tale berry/floral nose with subtle hints of menthol, blueberry, raspberry and flowers in addition to some forest floor and a delicate touch of lead pencil shavings. The wine exhibits more structure and density than it did from barrel, and it was already remarkable then. The foresty/floral notes seem to linger and linger in this surprisingly full-bodied, powerful Cheval Blanc, yet it possesses a very healthy pH that should ensure enormous longevity. Dense purple in colour, and a bigger, richer wine than usual, this is one Cheval Blanc that will probably need a decade of cellaring. I like the description from the estate’s administrator, Pierre Lurton, who said it tasted like ‘liquid cashmere’. a perfect expression, despite the wine’s structure and intensity. This is another 50-year wine from this amazingly structured, rich vintage. 100 points, Wine Advocate (2/2013)
This is the finest Cheval Blanc for many years. It is, quite simply, magnificent. The wine shows the greatness of Cabernet Franc in the vintage, with 57% of the variety in the blend. It is beautifully structured and perfumed with velvety tannins, balanced acidity and swathes of black-currant and black-cherry fruits. It's well on course to becoming a legendary wine. 100 points (3/2013).
Lush and very rounded, with lots of muscle and heft, but also great polish and pose to the gorgeous boysenberry, plum and fig notes. Super-creamy on the finish, with bittersweet cocoa, violet, mint, anise and tobacco in reserve. 95-98 points, James Molesworth.
You’ll want to wait at least a decade before broaching a bottle as massively endowed as this, with loads of loamy bass notes thumping along underneath a riveting track of licorice snap, pastis-steeped black currant fruit, maduro tobacco and espresso. And then there’s an echo of petrichor at the very end that hints at the aromatic fireworks to come with cellaring. Should compete for wine of the vintage. Best from 2020 through 2040. 98 points (1/2013).
Captivating scents of cassis, violet, minerals, bitter chocolate and wild herbs. Extremely fine-grained but also very dense and chewy.., showing great Cabernet Franc lift and perfume and a downright velvety texture. This deep, multi-layered wine was a bit dominated by its brooding tannins and big structure when first poured, but I found my score going steadily higher as the wine benefited from air. My rating may look too conservative a decade from now – or three or four decades hence. 95(+?) points, International Wine Cellar (8/2013).
Meaty and savoury. Almost austere on the nose relative to how young Cheval usually tastes. Very youthful but aromatic, then lovely lusciousness on the palate. Recalls great old Chevals with that seductive freshness. Lovely dry finish… Great structure but also lovely floral seductive aroma. Opens out in the glass in the most convincing manner. 18.5+/20 points, jancisrobinson.com (4/2011).
Like many samples, the Cheval Blanc takes a long time to open but eventually reveals a very refined, tightly-knit bouquet with dark berries, espresso, underbrush, the Cabernet Franc dominating the Merlot at present. The palate is medium-bodied and much more masculine compared to the fleshier 2009 last year, like the nose, the Cabernet Franc defining the wine with touches of dried herbs, a little allspice and white pepper. There is a firm backbone to this Cheval Blanc, quite structured towards the spicy finish, fresh but obdurate and broody. This will need a decade to really open up. Very promising, but do not expect fireworks...yet. Drink 2020-2040+ 95-97 points, Wine Advocate (2011).
Sublime wine. Fresh, floral, perfumed. More elegant and sensual than the '09. Pure, sumptuous fruit. Refined texture and tannins. Lovely acidity for balance. Seamless. Drink 2020-2050. 20/20 points, James Lawther MW.
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.