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The Tb points given to this wine are the world’s most valid and most up-to-date evaluation of the quality of the wine. Tastingbook points are formed by the Tastingbook algorithm which takes into account the wine ratings of the world's 50 best-known professional wine critics, wine ratings by thousands of tastingbook’s professionals and users, the generally recognised vintage quality and reputation of the vineyard and winery. Wine needs at least five professional ratings to get the Tb score. Tastingbook.com is the world's largest wine information service which is an unbiased, non-commercial and free for everyone.

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Thirty-three plots contributed to this wine, out of the 43 in production. Five went into Petit Cheval and five into bulk. The 2018 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a 3.75 pH and 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is more open at the core of the wine than the Le Petit Cheval, strutting out of the glass with bold, ripe black cherries, cassis, warm plums and raspberry preserves notes. With coaxing, a whole array of fragrant spice, floral and earth notes emerge, followed by candied violets, star anise, powdered cinnamon, iron ore, tapenade and truffles plus wafts of camphor and mocha. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is firm yet possesses a beautifully plush structure of velvety tannins wrapping round the densely packed, complex, fragrant fruit, with seamless freshness and a very long, layered finish.

Score: 97/99Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, Wine Advocate (April 2019), April 2019

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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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Wine Information

Cheval Blanc is one of the great names of Bordeaux and the most famous Chateau in Saint Emilion. The 39 hectares of vines border Pomerol but the wine is different from Pomerol thanks to the high percentage of Cabernet Franc in the vineyard. A stunning new winery has recently been completed. There is no doubt that this is a great vineyard with an excellent wine-making team led by the talented Pierre-Olivier Clouet and overseen by Pierre Lurton. It is now planted with 49% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2018 vintage reminds Pierre-Olivier of the 2016 and is dense and ripe but also fresh and vibrant - harking back to the great 1998 vintage. The yield was a healthy 43 hl/ha and the wine is being aged in 100% new oak.

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Vintage 2018

2018 Bordeaux Vintage Report and recommendations

by Andrew Caillard MW

2018 is an exceptional year. The Bordeaux whites and sauternes are very good, but from an Australian perspective the excitement is all in the red wines. All sub regions produced examples of really good wines, but some performed better than others. Generally the very top estates made exemplary wines illustrating that the human factor and wealth can have a major impact on terroir! Over the last few weeks I have tasted around 350 to 400 wines, sometimes in large format forums like the UCG tastings or at various Chateaux. Nowadays it is difficult to taste the wines blind but density of colour, aromatic freshness, tannin density and overall balance are obvious indicators. In some instance I have tasted wines a few times enabling me to cross reference.

 

The weather until a few days ago has been clear with bright sunshine, warm days and a cool breeze. Temperatures have fallen now with more cloud cover and intermittent rains. While driving from Sauternes to St Emilion we drove through light hail but not enough to cause too many problems. In two weeks we have seen dormant vineyards and trees spring to life. The growing season is starting a touch early and of course people are worried about the chances of frost. After the devastating frost events of 2017 and the challenges created by hail and mildew during 2018, there is a feeling that climate change may well have an unpredictable impact on future  Bordeaux vintages.

 

 We have pretty tasted a good amount of primeurs wines now. As usual the vintage will be exaggerated. The growing season was near calamitous but long warm sunshine hours over summer cleaned everything up and allowed the grapes to ripen very really well. The colours, flavours, density and acidities are really impressive and as a consequence the vintage is generally quite exceptional. It is difficult to truly understand the overall crop losses as producers are understandably quite cagey. But they vary from almost nothing to less than a third. At Ch Climens in Sauternes Barsac I would estimate the crop being around 20% of the average. When one considers that this estate lost its whole crop in 2017 from frost, the shock must be keenly felt. Mother Nature has been particularly cruel of late. The narrative of the growing season will inevitably create a negative impression, but few people will remember the details in years to come. They will only remember the wine. For some people with long memories they believe the vintage is like 1947 or 1961. If this is the case, this is not just an exceptional vintage, this is something beyond the norm. An immortal year. The concentration, weight, and vitality of the wines are impressive. Despite the amazing tannin density, saturated colours and flavours, the wines are actually quite easy to taste, indicating remarkable balance and life.

 

In my opinion the strongest sub regions are Pauillac and St Julien – which have both produced wines of great consistency and classicism. They are powerfully expressive with pronounced ripe tannins and pure fruit flavours. The combination of better micro-climatic conditions, wealth and physical resources helped with the result. Ch Pontet Canet is an outlier because of its approach to biodynamic viticulture. It suffered terribly from mildew and has produced only a third of the crop. The wine is markedly different from wines like Ch Latour or Ch Pichon Lalande, but its overall buoyancy and richness of fruit is compelling. It also stands for something that is worthwhile and important. 

 

I always think of Pauilac as being the reference for Bordeaux. Typically the wines are extremely expressive with pure cassis cedar aromas and fine grainy tannins. This year the wines are particularly dense and inky with plentiful graphite tannins. They are not at all sinewy or soupy and hence when the tannins settle down the wines will be exceptional.

There are many outstanding wines from Pauillac including Ch Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, Ch Lynch Bages, Ch Batailley, Ch d’Armailhac and Ch Grand Puy Lacoste. The first growths Ch Latour, Ch Mouton Rothschild and Ch Lafite Rothschild are very impressive. Their second wines Les Forts de Latour, Petit Mouton and Carruades are also of very high quality.

 

Neighbouring St Julien has also performed very well. Ch Ducru Beaucaillou and Ch Leoville Lascases probably lead the pack but Ch Leoville Barton, Ch Leoville Poyferré, Ch Gruaud Larose, Ch Talbot and Close de Marquis are all exceptionally well made wines

 

St Estephe is variable. Some estates controlled the volume and consistency of tannin very well and made classical wines. These include Cos d’Estournel, Ch Montrose, Ch TronquoyLalande, Ch Phelan Segur and Ch Canon Segur. Other examples were in my opinion excessively brutish in structure. For those willing to keep the wines for a decade or two, many of them will eventually come

around.

Margaux is also variable and does not always have the density of fruit to go with the tannins. Yet one of my favourite wines of the vintage is Ch Palmer which is magical. In fact I think it is the wine of the vintage. Ch Prieuré Lichine, Brane Cantenac, Giscours and Marquis de Terme were all good. Ch Margaux and Pavillon Rouge were of course well above the average. 

 

Subregions Moulis, Listrac and Haut Medoc wines are all over the place yet there are some genuine highlights including Esmond de Rothschild’s Ch Clarke, Ch Cantemerle and Ch Beaumont. 

 

Graves and Pessac Leognan have produced wines of varying quality yet again the very top Chateaux including Ch HautBailly, Ch La Mission Haut Brion and Ch Haut Brion have made impressive grand vins. Ch Smith Haut Lafitte has really moved up the hustings and has made a really good wine this year. 

 

St Emilion is a fascinating tapestry of colour and movement this year making some truly outstanding wines. Ch Cheval Blanc, Ch Ausone, Ch Belair Monange, Ch Fourtet, Ch Figeac, Ch Canon and Ch Pavie have all produced wines of richness and impact. I also enjoyed Ch La Dominique and the Burgundian-like Tertre Roteboeuf. But there is more inconsistency on the flats and fringes of the region. However as is often the case the value can be found best with lesser names who have prevailed well. This includes a few wines in the nearby Cotes de Castillon which may represent good value.

 

Pomerol is more consistent than St Emilion but there is also some variability. Ch Petrus, Vieux Chateau Certan, Ch Certande May, Ch Latour a Pomerol, Ch Gazin, Lafleur, Lafleur Petrus and Ch Trotanoy made really terrific wine but there were some instances where the wines were lighter in weight and probably less appealing. On reflection I think Pomerol vies for line honours. The wines are amazingly impressive with beautiful polish, suppleness and concentration. There are many instances where second wines have performed 

2018 is not a very great Sauternes Barsac year and the quality is dependent on the producer and how much of the crop was picked before the rain and humidity finally arrived to promote botrytis in the vineyards. My clear favourite is Ch Climens. Although I always see it in parts, the end result promises to be outstanding.  Rieussec, de Fargues and Lafaurie Peyragueyare are standouts.

 

As you will see from my tasting notes there are many great wines. This year it is going to be very hard to make a bad decision. Although the big names have made impressive wines there are stacks of lesser known or lower profile estates that have made promising young wines. Over the next year they will continue to evolve and mature in barrel, building more complexity and allowing the tannins to settle down. 

As regards whether it is a great vintage, I think it is safe to say that it is a remarkable year with many very great wines made. In some ways it is a miracle year considering the challenges and disappointments of the growing season. Most observers will agree that the 2018 vintage, specifically the red wines, is in the same league as the greatest vintages including 2015, 2010 and 2009 etc. Some winemakers are also suggesting its very similar to 1947 or 1961. 

But 2018 is also an atypical year – whatever that means these days. The weather patterns are more difficult to predict and no one can really second guess what God plans for this forthcoming season. Thankfully the predicted cold snap last night did not damage the emerging new growth. But the unseasonable warm start to the growing season and clear skies has everyone on edge

 

Andrew Caillard, MW

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

16 tasting notes

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Written Notes

The 2018 Cheval Blanc was harvested from 10 September to 11 October, with only 14 days of picking. The yield was 44.8hL/ha, which they believe moderated the level of alcohol and pH. It has a ripe and more open bouquet compared to the Le Petit Cheval with pixelated black cherries, wild strawberry and subtle orange pith aromas. The palate is medium-bodied with supple tannins and very good acidity that maintains freshness. This is quite compact and linear at the moment, gentle in terms of grip with an underlying spiciness that develops towards the finish. It is not a flamboyant Cheval Blanc, stricter than expected and in some ways overriding the excessive tendencies of the growing season.

  • 97p

Thirty-three plots contributed to this wine, out of the 43 in production. Five went into Petit Cheval and five into bulk. The 2018 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a 3.75 pH and 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is more open at the core of the wine than the Le Petit Cheval, strutting out of the glass with bold, ripe black cherries, cassis, warm plums and raspberry preserves notes. With coaxing, a whole array of fragrant spice, floral and earth notes emerge, followed by candied violets, star anise, powdered cinnamon, iron ore, tapenade and truffles plus wafts of camphor and mocha. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is firm yet possesses a beautifully plush structure of velvety tannins wrapping round the densely packed, complex, fragrant fruit, with seamless freshness and a very long, layered finish.

“The berries had a lot of tannins,” commented Technical Director Pierre-Olivier Clouet. “It was a challenge to ripen all those tannins!” Cheval Blanc had a particularly long harvest, being among the last to bring in the final parcels of Cabernet Franc on October 11. “We had to wait for each plot to get the right maturity,” added Clouet. “This gave us these wines with great drinkability—very silky and round.” Yields were a very healthy 43 hectoliters per hectare this year. “Too small of a yield would have been detrimental,” said Clouet. “We had to find the balance in the weather that followed.” Pierre Lurton, the Director of Cheval Blanc and d'Yquem, joined us at this stage. “This wine truly represents the whole vineyard,” he was excited to add. “Seventy-four percent of our total production went into Cheval Blanc this year, including components of the whole vineyard. Young vines, old vines, clay, gravel and sand—all participated in the final blend.” This vintage of Cheval Blanc is astonishingly beautiful. Even if the wine doesn’t eventually wind up with a perfect score for this vintage, what I particularly love about the 2018 is that it is so true to the heart-and-soul signature of this amazing vineyard. And, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but maybe that is even more important than a perfect score?

  • 99p

The 2018 Cheval Blanc is another magical wine from this estate and is certainly in the same league as the 1998, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2015. A blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, its deep purple color is followed by a thrillingly complex bouquet of red and black fruits, smoked herbs, liquid flowers, and incense. Possessing medium to full body, flawless integration of its fruit, tannins, and acidity, a terrific mid-palate, and a great finish, it shows the sunny, sexy style of the vintage yet has incredible purity and precision at the same time. It will be accessible with just short-term cellaring yet evolve for 30-40 years. Barrel Sample: 97-100.

  • 100p

33 plots on the 53 that can make Cheval have gone into this extra-ordinary wine. The depth is linked to the acidity and tannins that answer back to one another. We have the texture of cashmere of the greatest vintages with an floral and fruity aromatic palette that will surpass 1998. A great emotion.

  • 99p

This is ripe and juicy with immense fruitiness, the black currant flavors and solid tannins are an indication of the long future ahead of this wine. Big in structure, it has a richly perfumed character as well as great fruit. Eternal finish!

  • 98p

Ruby. Blueberries, cassis, some spices, scented, red fruity, some floral notes, layered and detailed. Fresh acidity, ripe tannins, anise, blueberries, some spices, layered and detailed, nuanced, long. 74% of the total production is in the Grand Vin. 96-98

  • 98p

Deep colour. Intense dark cherry plum chocolate praline aromas with vanilla roasted chestnut notes. Round and smooth with lovely dense ripe pure lack currNt plum fruits, fine long dense beautifully precise tannins and fresh acid line. Finishes firm and pastille like with long tannin plume. Like a peacocks tail on steroids.

  • 99p

The fruit and tannins reached full and perfect ripeness and the structure shows incredible cohesion, easily approaching the quality of the 2015 but with softer tannins. Beautifully complete with great integrity of coffee grounds and rich damson fruit. Opens up in the glass, the personality and complexity ripples through. Super Start of the vintage! 

  • 100p

Dark purple red colour with violet hue and almost black core. Great wine with freshness and concentration, wonderful fruit with well balanced character. Excellent depth and length, the slightly higher quantity harvested gave the perfect balance, wonderful! 

  • 99p
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Information

Origin

St. Emilion, Bordeaux

Inside Information

54 Merlot, 30 Cabernet Franc, 6 Cabernet Sauvignon) | 100% new oak for 18 months | 43 hl/ha | 14.5% alc | 74% of production went into this wine This is a much more structured and intense wine than expected and it has a dark core and a stern mineral edge which runs all of the way to the finish. There is great freshness and lift on the finish and the tannins are firm but not dry. Tense and introverted, the Cabernet Franc element takes control and it forces the Merlot to stand firm. It was the cool nights in the autumn that fixed the perfume and majesty of the Cabernet Franc and this in turn has made this wine what it is. This is a superbly suave and commanding Cheval Blanc and I like its restraint and control.

Score: 18.5+Matthew Jukes, MatthewJukes.com, April 2019

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