Something about Chateau Cheval Blanc
Known all over the world, Château Cheval Blanc, a First Classified Growth A, is one of the legendary wines of the Right Bank of the Bordeaux region. Cheval Blanc benefits from a unique and rare terroir that enjoys a special position on the Saint-Émilion plateau. Though Saint-Émilion is known for its limestone formations, Château Cheval Blanc is located on the L’Isle Quaternary alluvial deposits, a non-calcareous formation with varying texture that is a combination of gravel and clay in about the same proportion. These particular soils benefit Cheval Blanc, and are similar to those of the greatest Pomerol wines.
The existence of vines at Château Cheval Blanc first appears in writings dating back to the 15th century. The estate entered a new era from 1832 when Jean-Jacques Ducasse, President of the Court of Libourne, acquired the property and bought parcels attached to Château Figeac. The marriage between Henriette Ducasse, the daughter of Jean-Jacques Ducasse, and Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, a wine merchant from Libourne, marked the beginning of the modernization of the estate, which include building a network of walled and covered drains. It also lead to a revolution in the vineyard that resulted in the decision to define the varieties grown in the Cheval Blanc vineyard, which combines 50% Merlot, the grape variety of the Right Bank par excellence, and 50% Cabernet Franc. “The old wine of Figeac” was then first sold under the name of Cheval Blanc in 1852. After it obtained its first gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1878, Château Cheval Blanc obtained its highest recognition as a Classified Growth among Saint-Émilion wines in 1954 as a First Classified Growth A.
A vineyard with almost the same dimensions to the one from 1871, the Château Cheval Blanc estate consists of an exceptional and unique vineyard in Saint-Émilion. The 39-hectare vineyard is further divided into 45 plots, and has vines with an average age of 42 years.
Testifying to a great aromatic expression and a rare complexity, the wines of Cheval Blanc have a great power on the palate softened by the velvety structure of voluptuous tannins. An exceptional wine, Château Cheval Blanc has a unique ability to be appreciated in its youth by revealing all its expression while presenting a great capacity for aging for up to nearly a century.
As the Second Wine of the property, Petit Cheval Rouge offers a superb introduction to the excellence of Cheval Blanc. It is a racy wine that is powerful on the palate with punchy and greedy fruit.
With a new winery designed by Christian de Portzamparc and inaugurated in June 2011, Château Cheval Blanc continues to produce some of the most legendary wines of Bordeaux.
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Our special guest for the night was administrator Pierre Lurton, and one of his favorite vintages under his impeccable guidance at Cheval Blanc is the 1998, a wine that has gone from strength to strength. I rated it in the mid- to upper-90s early on, but it seems to have hit the magical three-digit perfection. It offers extraordinary, exuberant aromatics ranging from truffle to forest floor to floral notes intermixed with blackcurrant and black raspberry. It is an incredibly complex, full-bodied, opulent wine that seems to be in mid-adolescence and capable of lasting another 25 to 30 years. The 1998 was a spectacular vintage in Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, and to a lesser extent in Graves, and all three of those appellations eclipsed anything that was made in the Médoc.
The 1998 Cheval Blanc, a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc, is deep garnet-brick in color and absolutely explodes with scents of exotic spices, incense, dried roses, cigar box and licorice, with a core of crème de cassis and dried cherries plus touches of black tea and dusty earth. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with rich, plushly textured fruit and then POW—it hits the mid-palate with an explosion of Chinese five spice and floral perfume sparks, leading to an epically long finish. This cannot fail to impress and can easily cellar for another 30 years or more.
On this occasion, the 1998 Château Cheval Blanc could not match the stellar performance of the 1990, though it is still a great wine. It has a very pure, svelte bouquet with black cherries, camphor, creme de cassis and sage aromas. Giving it ten minutes to open in the glass, there is an attractive mint note that becomes ever more pronounced. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent tannins cloaked in glossy red cherry and strawberry fruit. There is great backbone and structure to this Cheval Blanc with a very long finish that fans out gloriously. I'd be inclined to give it two, three, maybe even four more years in bottle before it reaches its peak. Drink: 2019 - 2045.
Subtle, complex and refined, with aromas of cherry, licorice, mineral, berry and other sweet, ripe fruit. Full-bodied and compacted, with masses of fine, silky tannins. Long, long finish. Best after 2010. 8,330 cases made. (JS)
Mid crimson with a tad more development at the rim than Ausone or Pétrus. Already complex nose - sweet and rather dusty, more like the old traditional Cheval than recent vintages. Currant bun nose, Rich and yet firm and stylish on the palate, Silky and polished. Dry yet sappy finish. This grew in the glass to be very impressive. Both ripe and yet gorgeous to drink with real freshness. Quite a triumph. Drink 2009-2022. Date tasted 7th April 08.
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