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.
'The 2016 Cheval Blanc is one of the most beguiling wines of the vintage. Constantly changing in the glass, the 2016 is at once wonderfully refined and yet also quite powerful. Dark cherry, espresso, spice, leather, tobacco, mint and lavender give the 2016 tremendous aromatic presence. On the palate, the 2016 is rich, exotic and persistent, with real staying power and captivating balance. Pierre Lurton, Pierre-Olivier Clouet and the team at Cheval Blanc turned out a masterpiece in 2016. Don't miss it. 2026-2066'
98 Points, Antonio Galloni
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!!
"Wet earth and sliced, fresh mushrooms. Menthol. Dark berries, such as blackberries and blueberries. Full-bodied, dense and whole, but you don’t feel the tannins, even though it is so powerful and structured. Detailed and defined. Cashmere. Wonderful finish. Glorious young Cheval. Try after 2025, but so wonderful already."
99 Points, JamesSuckling.com
"The 2016 Cheval Blanc is the first year that replanted Cabernet Sauvignon was included in the Grand Vin. This has an intense, tightly wound bouquet that unwinds with aeration, maintaining stunning delineation and precision and offering scents of blackberry, briar and graphite and a faint hint of dark chocolate. The palate is very harmonious, precise and classic in style, and a little spicier than I recall from barrel. The oak is seamlessly integrated, and the pixelated, fresh, marine-tinged finish lingers in the mouth. Wow! Very different from the more rounded 2015 Cheval Blanc, though this might end up being the more classic but cerebral proposition. 2026-2070"
98 Points, Vinous
The 2016 Cheval Blanc is blended of 59.5% Merlot, 37.2% Cabernet Franc and 3.3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Deep garnet-purple in color, the nose is incredibly youthful yet not so shy as some other 2016s at this stage, giving wonderfully intense scents of red currants, black cherries, wild blueberries and violets with nuances of star anise, cinnamon stick, rose hip tea, cigar box and wood smoke plus a touch of beef drippings. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has jaw-dropping elegance and depth, offering up layer upon layer of fragrant red and black fruits plus an extraordinary array of mineral sparks, supported by a rock-solid grainy texture, finishing with epic persistence and an edifying perfume. This is a very different style from the rich, opulently hedonic 2015, yet this wonderfully fragrant, beautifully poised and intellectually compelling 2016 is equally extraordinary.
100 points, Wine Advocate (December 2018)
The grand vin 2016 Château Cheval Blanc checks in as 60% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon brought up in new barrels, and this is the first year a replanted block of Cabernet Sauvignon has made the top cuvée. Compared to the 2001 by Pierre Lurton, it displays stunning aromatic fireworks with notions of blackcurrants, forest floor, iron bar, graphite, and spice all soaring from the glass. It develops more floral nuances with time in the glass and, as always with this cuvée, it’s all about complexity and elegance. More medium to full-bodied, with beautiful tannins and perfect balance, it’s a decidedly classic, focused, elegant wine from this estate that will keep for 3-4 decades.
97 points, jebdunnuck.com (February 2019)
Rich, smoky and with powerful fruit, this structured wine also has an impressive perfumed character. Spice, blackberry fruits and rich tannins give wonderful firmness that will allow the wine to age well.
97 points, Wine Enthusiast (May 2019)
This has turned into a very dense wine, with waves of cassis, plum reduction and blackberry paste forming the core. Wrapped tightly in layers of tobacco and loam for now, while singed alder, incense, black tea and bergamot notes peek in here and there. The finish rumbles like thunder for now, with the swath of tannins, and there's just a twinge of drought-induced austerity. But there's acidity and drive too, and this will cruise in the cellar for some time.
97 points, Wine Spectator (March 2019)
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.