The Grande Dame of the village, and simply one of the greatest wines in Bordeaux. A wine of precision and extraordinary beauty, the 2016 Cheval Blanc is also one of the highlights of the year. In the glass, it is precise, delicate and understated. It is an absolutely stunning wine in every way." - Vinous
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.
The 2016 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 59% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and (the return of) 3% Cabernet Sauvignon from the gravel soils since in this vintage the vines showed absolutely no stress. It delivers 14.25% alcohol with an IPT of 75 and a pH 3.67, which Pierre Lurton told me is a little lower than normal. As usual, it is matured in 100% new oak. It has a very pure, correct and quite penetrating bouquet with black cherries, blackcurrant, graphite and a touch of wild mint. It is bashful at first but opens with confidence with aeration (incidentally, I allowed my sample 40 minutes to open). The palate is medium-bodied with filigree tannin and a killer line of acidity that imparts so much freshness from the starting gun. That soupçon on Cabernet Sauvignon does make a difference, lending a subtle vein of graphite that runs throughout the wine. It remains linear, with laser-like focus towards the extraordinarily persistent finish, pencil lead on the "HB" aftertaste. This is a classic and intellectual Cheval Blanc, not as charming perhaps as the 2015 Cheval Blanc, but it will unquestionably age gracefully over decades not years.
97–99. Barrel Sample. Fruit and tannins have combined so harmoniously in this impressive, magnificent wine. The acidity shoots through to give considerable freshness, lifting the blackberry fruit. What makes the wine though are the tannins, which support the marvelous fruit. It will obviously age for many, many years.
This is very powerful Cheval with searing tannins and bright fruit, acidity and mineral undertones. Full and muscular yet beautifully formed and polished. It’s all about the form to this. Better than 2015.