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. Intense beautiful red plum, blackcurrant pastille aromas with attractive spice, toasted oak notes. Gorgeously balanced wine with pure cassis, red currant fruits, supple looseknit chalky graphite textures, integrated toasty, spicy oak and long fresh acidity. Extraordinary wine with superb density, tannin quality, understated power and pure fruit expression. Finishes graphite firm with persistent perfectly ripe fruits. Tasted at Ch Cheval Blanc.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.