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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.
Château Cheval Blanc
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.
In the 18th century a large area of the current estate of Cheval Blanc was covered in vines. It is said that on the place where the Blanc-painted building now stands, there used to be a modest post house where horses could be changed. It appears that the legendary King Henry IV once stopped there on his way from Paris to Pau, his birthplace, when he wanted to change his tired horses, traditionally always Blanc, to new ones. He was well known of his habit of riding with only Blanc horses, and this blessed, tiny post house was the only place on St. Emilion that had those noble creatures. After that the inn, which saved the King, was naturally called Cheval Blanc – white horse.
One century later the estate was bought by the Fourcaud-Laussac family, the beginning of a time of slow renovation, with the acquisition in 1871 of adjacent plots giving the vineyard its definitive layout , drainage, and planting of the Cabernet Franc variety. From this time the wine of Cheval Blanc achieved a level of success, which was rewarded with the top prizes in London (1862), Paris (1878) and Antwerp (1885). This fine reputation grew steadily throughout the 20th century under the ownership of the Fourcaud-Laussac family. In 1998, the estate was sold to Mr Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère .
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.
Soil: three main types of soil – gravel with clay subsoil, deep gravel, sand with clay subsoil
Production area: 37 ha
Grape varieties: Cabernet Franc 58%, Merlot 42%
Average age of vines: 40 years, the oldest are 80 years (1920)
Harvest method: by hand, with sorting on reception in the cellar
Winemaking: 4 pumpings of 15 mins per day during the alcoholic fermentation. Vat sizes corresponding to plots in vineyard, ranging from 50 to 120 hectolitres. Separate vinifications according to soil, age of vines and grape variety.
Ageing: in 100% new oak barrels for 14 to 18 months, depending on the power of the vintage
Bordeaux: After four miserable vintages came the hot vintage of 1975 which put Bordeaux wines briefly into the limelight once again. The unsettled temperature in September turned into good weather for the harvest. Grapes were high in sugar content, but for many reds especially Cabernet Sauvignon based ones were lacking of phenolic ripeness. This yielded masculine and even aggressive reds with austere and even hard tannins.
Graves and Pomerol wines have proved to be the most delicious from this year. La Mission Haut-Brion and Lafleur-Pétrus stand out as the best ones, with Trotanoy just after them.Pétrus has proven to be the very exceptional with more aggressive and full-bodied style than usually. The Lafite-Rothschild at the reasonable price of 300 euro is the first seventies Lafite that gives a promise of improvement. On the other hand Haut-Brion considered very good has proven to be a slight disappointment.
For dry whites this was outstanding and Sauternes an excellent vintage. The best Sauternes experiences have been Yquem, Coutet, Gilette and Suduiraut.