x
  • Country ranking ?

    689
  • Producer ranking ?

    14
  • Decanting time

    5h
  • When to drink

    from 2018
  • Food Pairing

    lamb in mild spices cooked at low temperature

The Story

Whether by design or by pure chance, there are in the world exceptional places. Cheval Blanc is one of these. Combining a unique soil with a symbiotic mix of grape varieties, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Cheval Blanc produces a wine, which has the rare quality of being good at any age. It is without doubt one of the most consistent wines in the world. Cheval Blanc's unique identity is due to its varied soils, early-ripening microclimate, the percentage of Cabernet Franc in the vineyard, and the close proximity of the finest wines of Pomerol.

Château Cheval Blanc has the rare ability to be good at whatever age. It is enjoyable young or as much as a century old in certain vintages. However, a great wine only reveals its full potential and all its subtle nuances after several years in bottle. It takes time to show its true colours and before reaching its peak. Every vintage of Cheval Blanc is made according to the traditional philosophy that great wine needs to age.
It should nevertheless be said that wines with ageing potential go through several periods, and that each one has its own type of attractiveness. This is all part of Château Cheval Blanc's fascinating complexity. Three different bottles of Cheval Blanc from the same vintage drunk at five, twenty, and forty years of age will each show a different facet of the same wine, variations on the same lovely theme. A bottle of fine wine meant to age is like a library of flavours that develop throughout its existence.
Wine is a "cultural" beverage that is very much alive and develops countless nuances over time. That is why this long waiting period needs to be respected. It is crucial to the wine's evolution, so that it can deliver its very best.

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Vintage 2011

2011 Cheval Blanc – From 52% Cabernet Franc and 48% Merlot, the wine will be aged in 100% new oak. The wine reached 13% alcohol and represents 65% of the harvest. This is a fresh, refined, elegant style of Cheval Blanc that offers soft, ripe, pure, fresh black and white cherries, floral, spice, truffle, smoke and earthy aromas along with supple textures. While refined and polished, 2011 Cheval Blanc lacks the depth of 2009 and 2010.

The vegetation period lasting from 1st April to 3rd September was warm and dry, in particular in April, May and June. On 26 and 27 June for example, temperatures reached 37.8°C. This very hot, sunny weather caused a few incidents of heat damage. July was cool, with average rainfall, while August was quite hot with higher than average rainfall (78mm against the norm of 64mm). The exceptionally hot, dry September allowed us to pick the grapes in optimum conditions. The budburst came fairly early: 26 March for the Merlot and 29 March for the Cabernet Franc. Flowering occurred extremely early, on 12 May for the Merlot and 17 May for the Cabernet Franc, due to the very high temperatures in April andMay.Mid-veraison was observed on 17 July for the Merlot and 24 July for the Cabernet Franc. This was the earliest ever recorded at Cheval Blanc.

The cool month of July and the rainy August resulted in a fairly slow, gradual ripening process. So while the harvesting dates were quite early they were less so than in 1997 and 2003. The excellent weather conditions in September allowed the grapes to attain optimum ripeness on each plot.We were thus able to stagger the harvesting over more than three weeks, from 6 to 28 September. The early drought caused a halt in the growth of the earliest branches on the gravel plots between end June and mid-July. On the clay soils growth stopped at the end of July. The rainy month of August maintained growth on the sandy soils through to mid-September. The pressure of vine disease such as mildew was extremely low until July, picking up slightly at the end of the season due to the August rainfall. The vines opened out generously and most of the plots required thinning. The final yield was slightly higher than the ten-year average.

 

The weight of the ripe grapes was slightly below average. This is a concentration factor which varies greatly from one soil type to the next. Sugar contents at ripeness were lower than the average over the period 2004-2011 for the Merlot. An almost unheard-of event occurred: the Cabernet Franc grapes had higher sugar content at ripeness than the Merlot. The Cabernet Franc is a laterripening variety than the Merlot and this year was able to make the most of the highly favourable conditions in September. Ph levels were relatively low in the Merlot and higher in the Cabernet Franc. Malic acid content was low in both varieties, indicating very good ripeness. On the gravel and clay soils, the grapes were richer in phenolic compounds than the average over the period 2004-2011, which is logical given the low weight of the grapes. On the sandy soils the values were close to the long-term average.

But we were below the record values of 2010. Several factors contributed to the quality of the 2011 vintage. The hot weather led to early yet complete ripening of the grapes. The water stress brought early growth to a halt and limited the size of the grapes on soils with low or medium water reserves (gravel and clay). The August rains penalised the vintage’s potential slightly, particularly on the sandy soils where the vines were not yet in a situation of water stress. The later-ripening Cabernet Franc suffered less in August and was able to reach its full potential in the beautiful September weather. The exceptional event was the fact that the Cabernet Franc grapes were sweeter, less acidic and had lesstotal phenolic compounds than the Merlot.


2011 Le Petit Cheval – With a large portion of Merlot at 75% and 25% Cabernet Franc, the wine opens to truffle, caramel and black cherry. Medium-bodied, with some dryness in the finish, the wine ends with black raspberry sensations.

 

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep, Ruby red and Bright

ending

Long, Extensive and Flavorful

flavors

Pepper, Cherry, Smoky, Earthy, Mineral and Truffles

nose

Intense, Fresh and Round

taste

Balanced, Good texture, Focused, Elegant, Refined and Silky tannins

Verdict

Transparent and Well made

Written Notes

2011 Cheval Blanc had excellent purity, finesse and great complexity. Rich wine with long aftertaste. 96p.
  • 96p
Ruby. Dark fruits, ripe cassis and blueberries nose, intense and light spicy note, somewhat scented, still tight. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fresh, fruity, ripe, dark berries, intense, some red berries, somewhat astringent and structured and will need years in the cellar, give it fifteen years. Very long. 2027-2065
  • 96p
From 52% Cabernet Franc and 48% Merlot, the wine will be aged in 100% new oak and reached 13% alcohol. The Grand Vin represents 65% of the harvest. This is a fresh, elegant style of Cheval Blanc that offers soft, ripe, pure, fresh black and white cherries, floral, spice, truffle, smoke and earthy aromas along with supple textures. While refined and polished, 2011 Cheval Blanc lacks the depth found in 2009 and 2010, but the beautiful sense of purity in the fruit is something to behold. 95-96 Pts
  • 95p

Information

Origin

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux

Vintage Quality

Above Average

Value For Money

Satisfactory

Investment potential

Good

Fake factory

None

Glass Time

2h

Inside Information

Tb:What was the key for you in making 2011 Cheval Blanc?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “It was to wait to harvest the Cabernet Franc so we could gain the maximum level of ripeness to allow us to produce the best 2011 Cheval Blanc possible.”

Tb:How did you approach harvesting your Merlot to produce the 2011 Cheval Blanc?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “The goal is to pick the Merlot when it is al dente. The fruit is best when it is almost ripe.”

Tb:Why do you prefer to pick Merlot when it’s as you say, al dente, and not fully ripe?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “When the Merlot grape is too ripe, it delivers flavors we are not looking for in Cheval Blanc wine. In the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, the Cabernet Franc was harvested later, after the Merlot. The fruit obtained better development due to the warm days and cool nights. This allowed the aromatics to obtain fruit and floral characteristics.”

Tb:In this difficult and dry vintage, how did your manage your vineyards to produce the 2011 Cheval Blanc?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “In the sandy terroir of Cheval Blanc, some of the berries did not ripen as we would have liked. That fruit was not used in the final blend. But the fruit grown in clay soils of Cheval Blanc obtained good ripeness. Clay is exceptional in every type of vintage.”

Tb:How was it for you to work the first vintage in your new cellars?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “It was perfect. We have 44 different plots in the vineyards. In the cellars, we now have 52 vats ranging in size from 20 hectoliters to 110 hectoliters. We were truly able to harvest on a parcel-by-parcel basis. With all the different-sized vats, we could control the vinification on a parcel-by-parcel basis”.

Tb:After fermentation, what other choices did you make in the cellars for the production of the 2011 Cheval Blanc?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “At the end of alcoholic fermentation, we continued to macerate the grapes at low temperatures ranging from 29-30 Celsius. We did no pumping over for the following 10-14 days, depending on the vats. This leads to more supple characteristics in the wine.”

Tb:Do you feel there is any difference in aromatic complexity in the wines being made in the new cellars?
Pierre Olivier Clouet “No. There is no difference. We perform extensive sanitation in the cement vats and they are perfectly clean.”

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Wine Moments

Here you can see wine moments from tastingbook users. or to see wine moments from your world.

96p
 Izak Litwar / The most important Scandinavian Bordeaux Critic, Pro (Denmark)  tasted  Cheval Blanc 2011  ( Château Cheval Blanc )

"2011 Cheval Blanc had excellent purity, finesse and great complexity. Rich wine with long aftertaste. 96p."

1y 1m ago

96p
 Christer Byklum / Leading Scandinavian wine blogger, Wine Writer (Norway)  tasted  Cheval Blanc 2011  ( Château Cheval Blanc )

"Ruby. Dark fruits, ripe cassis and blueberries nose, intense and light spicy note, somewhat scented, still tight. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, fresh, fruity, ripe, dark berries, intense, some red berries, somewhat astringent and structured and will need years in the cellar, give it fifteen years. Very long. 2027-2065 "

1y 8m ago

95p
 Jeff Leve, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  Cheval Blanc 2011  ( Château Cheval Blanc )

"From 52% Cabernet Franc and 48% Merlot, the wine will be aged in 100% new oak and reached 13% alcohol. The Grand Vin represents 65% of the harvest. This is a fresh, elegant style of Cheval Blanc that offers soft, ripe, pure, fresh black and white cherries, floral, spice, truffle, smoke and earthy aromas along with supple textures. While refined and polished, 2011 Cheval Blanc lacks the depth found in 2009 and 2010, but the beautiful sense of purity in the fruit is something to behold. 95-96 Pts"

4y 4m ago

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