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Cheval Blanc: The Importance
Château Cheval Blanc is widely considered to have created some of the greatest Bordeaux wines ever made. Robert Parker calls Cheval Blanc’s Grand Vin “One of the most elegant and noble wines in all of Bordeaux”, while John Gilman puts it on a par with Pétrus and Ausone as “the Right Bank First Growth”.
One of four St Emilion wineries to enjoy the status of Premier Grand Cru Classé (A), alongside Angelus, Ausone and Pavie, Cheval Blanc produces the world’s greatest Cabernet Franc-based wine and is a reference point for the best that can be achieved with the grape.
Cheval Blanc: The Insight
Located to the North West of the St. Emilion appellation on the border with Pomerol, Cheval Blanc neighbours a number of high profile estates, including Château Figeac to the South and Château Pétrus and Vieux Château Certan across the border in Pomerol.
A third of Cheval Blanc’s Grand Vin is located on the boundary with Pomerol, one third has the same gravelly soil as Graves and the remaining third is a classic St Emilion. The resulting combination of gravel, clay and sand helps shape and define Cheval Blanc’s unique taste. The vineyards are planted with some Merlot and a tiny proportion of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the main event is Cabernet Franc. This, in Parker’s words, leads to “a distinctive lighter, more delicate style” and “aromatic, long-lived wines that represent the quintessential, complex style of Bordeaux”.
Cheval Blanc’s Grand Vin has received a number of all-important 100 and 99 point scores from Parker, with the 2010, 2005 and 1947 among the most sought-after vintages. One of Cheval Blanc’s most admired qualities is its longevity, with some of the best examples capable of ageing for fifty years or more.
The estate also makes a highly respected second wine: Le Petit Cheval, launched in 1996, which Neal Martin describes as “equal to many a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé” and which has earned very respectable scores from Parker.
Finally, Cheval Blanc is unusual in Bordeaux for also making a dry white wine. Le Petit Cheval Blanc was launched with a small number of cases of the 2014 vintage, creating a stir among collectors. Designed to echo the elegance and grace of the Grand Vin and intended to age well, this white wine is one to watch over years to come.
Cheval Blanc: The Background
Cheval Blanc’s history can be traced back to the 1830s, when the Ducasse family purchased a patch of land and vines from Château Figeac. This land, combined with a number of parcels bought from other wineries, eventually became the Cheval Blanc estate that we know today.
The historic château was built in the late 1800s and is now recognised as one of the most beautiful and classic examples of Bordeaux wine architecture. In 2011 famous architect Christian de Portzamparc led the renovation of the estate’s facilities, including a state-of-the-art winery, barrel cellars, vinification room and tasting area, making Cheval Blanc the envy of all other Bordeaux estates.
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