The storied Saint-Émilion estate needs little introduction, but its history is worth noting. The creation story starts in 1832 when a neighboring estate sold 15 hectares, some of which had distinctive gravelly soils that run like a vein through the region. It wasn't until 1871 that Cheval Blanc achieved its present day size, but seed was there from the beginning - to marry Merlot with Saint-Émilion's traditional Cabernet Franc. Already adored and well-medaled, Cheval Blanc scored the distinctive ranking of Premier Grand Cru Classé "A" in 1954. As of 2012 they're still just one of four Châteaux to earn the distinction.
Tasted blind at the 2012 Southwold tasting, the 2012 Cheval Blanc has a perfumed, outgoing, almost "glossy" bouquet that wants to be noticed, lavished with damson, wild strawberry, fig jam and crème de cassis scents that are totally seductive. The palate is medium-bodied with ripe, succulent, sensual red cherries and wild strawberry fruit, though perhaps the finish showed some superfluous hubris that just erased some of the potential delineation and focus. On this occasion it was pipped to the post by Ausone, but let us see how it matures, because the white horse always repays those that are patient. Tasted January 2016.
This wine is gorgeous in all facets, offering a simultaneously loamy and creamy mouthfeel, seamless layers of red and black currant, cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, and a long, tobacco-fueled finish that features alluring hints of black tea and incense. The fruit and terroir shine in this broad, deep and defined style. Best from 2018 through 2030. 7,083 cases made.
The 2012 Cheval Blanc boasts stunning power and a vertical, imposing sense of structure that is quite rare in this vintage. Dark and almost brooding in style, the Cheval is a rare 2012 that absolutely demands cellaring. Smoke, tobacco, incense and dark spices open up with time, but the 2012 is a reticent, tannic wine that is only showing the barest hints of its ultimate potential. This is a magnificent showing and one of the clear highlights of the year.
A Cheval Blanc with an impressive center palate of blueberries, chocolate, almonds and spices. Full body, a solid core of fruit and a long, long finish. Goes on for minutes. Beautiful wine. Seamless tannins. Needs a few years of bottle age. Better in 2017.