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.
Deep colour. Fresh plummy/praline/herb garden aromas. Beautifully concentrated wine with plummy/cedar/lead pencil flavours, fine plentiful graphite tannins and underlying savoury oak. Very buoyant and crisp. 94-96 points, Langton's.
...one of the more plump, opulent and sexy Cheval Blancs made over recent vintages… its forwardness, lusciousness and complexity seemingly suggest this wine is on a fast evolutionary track. The wine exhibits a dense ruby/purple/plum colour, a medium to full-bodied opulence, a sumptuous mid-palate (atypical for the vintage), and a lush, heady finish. It is a super, complex, evolved Cheval Blanc that can be drunk now or cellared for 15+ years. Bravo! 95 points, Wine Advocate (5/2014)..
Offers a loamy, dense feel, with the vintage's briary grip tumbled with dark plum, blackberry and blackcurrant fruit. Anise and tobacco notes fill out the finish, which expands steadily with air, showing added range and echoes of bittersweet cocoa and tobacco. Seems to have a lot in reserve. Best from 2016 through 2030. 94 points, Wine Spectator.
A really beautiful wine with super silky tannins with chocolate, spice, berries and spices. Full body, with super polished tannins and a long, long finish. The first wine from the new winery of Cheval. Very precise. Very polished. Cabernet Franc gives the quality. 94 points, jamessuckling.com (4/2012).
A beautiful nose of ripe black fruits such blackberries, as well as cocoa, black truffle and mint. Full body with a solid core of very refined tannins that lasts for minutes. Very refined texture, especially for the vintage. 57% Cabernet Franc and 43% Merlot. Try after seven to eight years. 94 points, jamessuckling.com (1/2014).
The Cheval Blanc is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc and 48% Merlot picked from September 6 finishing on October 2. The bouquet is reticent at first and so I allow the sample to warm a little in the glass over five minutes. It unfurls nicely to offer a classic Cheval Blanc nose with the Cabernet Franc exhibiting those floral aromas, more dried rose petal than say violets. It is a slightly aloof nose, not one that comes running to you like the 2009 or 2010. The palate is medium-bodied with fine, slightly chalky tannins. It is well balanced with a fine tannic backbone, imbued with a sense of symmetry that Cheval Blanc has been honing in recent vintages. It displays fine minerality, remaining strict and linear towards the finish, although this may flesh out a little during maturation. A comparatively foursquare Cheval Blanc, one that will repay considerable ageing. 94/96 points, Wine Advocate (4/2012).
Maybe it's partly to do with the shiny, new, hi-tech cellar at his disposal, but Pierre Lurton has crafted one of the wines of the vintage in 2011. A little closed at the moment, but with attractive clove and orange peel on the nose, svelte tannins, sweet, classy oak and a spicy, Cabernet Franc-influenced finish. The freshness of the Cabernet Franc (and its comparative drought resistance) is crucial here. 15+ years. 97 points, timatkin.com, (4/2012).
Deep dark cherry crimson. Delicately floral and fruity, so subtle but gently aromatic. A touch of oak sweetness and spice but very restrained. Very very fine grained, you can feel the tannins but they melt across the palate. There's intensity but it's so TENDER. It's dark-fruited rather than savoury. There's minerality in both taste and texture. 19/20 points, jancisrobinson.com
A beautiful, understated wine with great depth and intensity. Pure and fragrant with cashmere tannins and great length and line. A resounding success for the first vintage in the new winery. Remains true to style. Drink 2018-2040. 18.5/20 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.