Possibly the finest second wine Cheval Blanc has yet produced, the 2009 Le Petit Cheval is a blend of 35% Merlot and 65% Cabernet Franc. It exhibits more caramelised notes than the grand vin along with a luscious, open-knit, subtle herbaceous component. This fleshy, sexy 2009 is ideal for drinking over the next decade. 91 points, Robert Parker (2012)
The 2009 Le Petit Cheval is the best second wine I have ever tasted from this estate… it is better than most vintages of the grand vin from the 60s and 70s. Notes of chocolate, black cherries, herbs, and spice emerge from this full-bodied, thick, juicy wine. Enjoy it over the next 10+ years. (Parker added an asterisk to this wine score to signify that it is a wine he considers has the finest potential of all the offerings he has ever tasted from this estate in nearly 32 years of barrel tasting samples in Bordeaux.) 91-93 points, Robert Parker (2010)
A blend of 65% Cabernet Franc and 35% Merlot, the bouquet is a little more generous than in previous years, with pure blackberry, blueberry, a touch of damson and limestone. Good definition. The palate is structured on the entry, that Cabernet Franc really defining the wine, very fine tannins though and lovely balance. Very pure and linear at the moment, but it skips along towards the finish without a care in the world. 93 points, Neal Martin (2010)
Delivers plum and spices on the nose, with hints of coffee and black licorice. Full-bodied, offering a wonderful silky texture and a long, long finish. So inviting and delicious already. 90-93 points, James Suckling, Wine Spectator (2010)
The nose is fleshed out by rich black cherry, lovely and sweet. On the palate the fruit is rich, ripe with a fleshy sweetness but underneath is freshness – red cherry and raspberry that lifts the flavours and brightens the finish. Drink 2018-2035. 91-94 points, Derek Smedley, MW (2010)
The second wine of Cheval Blanc benefited from a couple of parcels of Cabernet Franc that didn't make it into the grand vin, so it's a correspondingly supple, aromatic wine. Brambly, black fruit-scented with a touch of greenness adding acidity and bite. Creamy mid-palate with well-handled oak. Well worth buying if you can't get hold of (let alone afford) Cheval Blanc. 10+ years. 93 points, Tim Atkin, MW (2010)
Full-bodied but amazingly fresh and balanced. Fragrant, focused and satisfying. Fine, filigree tannins. Drink 2015-2025. 17/20 points, James Lawther, MW, Decanter (2010)
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 flavor 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 savory 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.