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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.
1959 was an excellent year, with loads of class thanks to moderately warm weather throughout the growing season. A good bottle of 1959 Cheval Blanc is truly immense, showing fine balance, incomparable richness, and a rare, elegant complexity.
The year is dry and warm, though it will give a small yield of 20 ho/Ha. Grape picking takes place around September 25th. Everyone praises the vintage as exceptional. It has 13° of alcohol.
After an extremely warm summer, the harvest began on the 28th of September and ended on the 10th of October. The warm weather and yield of just 21 hectolitres per hectare were conducive to good ripening and concentration. This low yield was due, in part, to the results of the devastating frost of February 1956 that killed 10 hectares of vines. The absence of blending prior to bottling accounts for the irregularity in bottles from this vintage. Alcoholic degree: 13°.
In fact, at Cheval Blanc things are more mixed: some grapes are not sufficiently pressed during wine production and that will give average quality bottles. One can also find splendid ones with a thick nose. At that time barrels were bottled without blending, which explains the irregularity from one bottle to the other.
Bordeaux 1959 was proclaimed the wine year of the century by overzealous journalists. Even though it was an excellent year, it simply was not the best of the century. The year started off with ideal weather conditions. Summer was perfect all the way until the autumn, when the rains came in mid-September. But the rains made way for hot, dry weather, thus setting a magnificent stage for the start of the harvest. The result was a truly ripe and juicy crop. The reds are typically full-bodied, with soft acidity and a fat mouthfeel that comes from the high alcohol content. Even though the vintage is generally compared to 1961, it has much in common with the 1949. The Sauternes vintage was equally a success and the region produced some very long-lived wines. Once again the Château Lafite-Rothschild achieved complete success, sharing the title of best wine of the vintage with the Haut-Brion. Right on their heels is the Pétrus, which should be decanted for at least three hours before drinking, and the La-Mission-Haut-Brion.