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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.
1948 is a very good year marked by a drought conditions. The wine is atypical because it is very tannic – which is relatively rare for Cheval Blanc. It is perfectly balanced and incredibly young for a wine nearly seventy years old.The harvest began on the 27th of September after an extremely dry growing season that accounts for this beautiful vintage. The heat led to small, thick-skinned grapes with ink-black juice.
1948 Cheval Blanc was very tannic when young and difficult to taste because of its 13.5° alcohol. One of the leading brokers in Bordeaux criticized the wine harshly, saying it reflected none of Cheval Blanc's usual smoothness and outgoing character. The former owner, Claude Fourcaud-Laussac, said of this wine when he tasted it in 1989: "This teenager still has a great many years ahead of it". Indeed, its tannin has ensured a phenomenally long life. Although the aftertaste is not especially long, the wine's tannic texture is tighter than traditional vintages of Cheval Blanc"
Bordeaux 1948: a fine vintage which had the misfortune of being located between two legendary vintages.
Weather Conditions: The weather conditions in Bordeaux during the 1948 growing season were challenging. The year began with a cold winter, followed by a late spring and a rather wet early summer. These conditions delayed budbreak and flowering, which in turn affected grape ripening. However, the weather improved in late summer, with a warm and dry period that allowed the grapes to ripen more fully. The harvest took place under favorable conditions, salvaging the vintage to some extent.
Bordeaux 1948 Reds: The red wines of Bordeaux from the 1948 vintage vary in quality. The wines typically display a ruby-red to garnet color with signs of aging, such as a brick or amber rim. On the nose, they offer a mix of dried fruits, cedar, tobacco, and earthy notes.
In the mouth, the 1948 Bordeaux reds are characterized by their medium body and soft, often resolved tannins. The acidity levels can vary, but some wines maintain a balanced structure. While the vintage does not consistently deliver the depth and concentration associated with Bordeaux's finest years, there are still well-preserved bottles that provide enjoyable drinking experiences, showcasing mature fruit and tertiary flavors.
Bordeaux 1948 Whites: The white wines of Bordeaux from the 1948 vintage also produced mixed results. These wines typically have a pale to medium gold color with aromas of honey, citrus, and hints of nuttiness. While they may lack the vibrancy and freshness of some other vintages, well-preserved bottles can still exhibit a certain charm and complexity.
Overall Impressions: The Bordeaux 1948 vintage is considered a mixed vintage in terms of quality. It is characterized by challenging weather conditions that impacted grape ripening and resulted in wines of varying degrees of maturity and complexity.
For collectors and connoisseurs, the 1948 Bordeaux wines offer a glimpse into Bordeaux's resilience in the face of adversity. Some bottles have aged gracefully, and those that have been stored well can still provide enjoyable drinking experiences. However, it is important to approach this vintage with realistic expectations, as it may not consistently offer the depth and longevity associated with Bordeaux at its best.