Château Cheval Blanc 2015
• Domaine: Château Cheval Blanc
• Appellation: Saint-Emilion
• Classification: Premier Grand Cru Classé A
• Origin: Right Bank, Bordeaux, France
• Importer: Laguna Cellar
Château Cheval Blanc is a property that needs no introduction. The wines of Cheval Blanc have been described as, “the finest cashmere,” and “elegance in motion,” by Pierre Lurton who oversees this Saint-Émilion Premiere Grand Cru Classé A Estate. Though the estate has never been ranked in the 1855 Classification, Château Cheval Blanc produces wines with quality that is on par with Left Bank First Growths. Though the wines of Château Cheval Blanc are considered some of the best in all of Bordeaux, if you ask any member of the team at the property, they will humbly tell you it is all about terroir.
Château Cheval Blanc has some of the best terroir on the Right Bank – and a lot of that is due to the mosaic of different soil types at the property. Straddling the border between Pomerol and Saint-émilion, Cheval Blanc shares the same strip of blue clay as the Pomerol legend, Château Pétrus and has the same gravel as the outstanding Château Figeac. The vignerons use this patchwork of different soil types to their advantage, ingeniously planting the optimum clones in the perfect soil and carefully tending to all 237,228 vines as if they were their own children. The result is legendary wine, year after year.
The first known document where Château Cheval Blanc was referenced was a contract in 1546. It was a part of a vast property that encompassed Château Figeac. Even then, the terroir was prized as some of the best in the Right Bank. During the French Revolution, two vignerons tended to Cheval Blanc’s vineyards because the terroir was so extraordinary – a highly unusual occurrence.
In 1832 the Ducasse family purchased the terroir from Château Figeac and at the time it was named, “Le Barrail de Cailloux,” or “The Barrel of Tiny Stones.” Château Cheval Blanc changed hands a couple times through marriage – as was traditional at the time – and was eventually acquired by Jean Laussac Fourad. Fourad wanted to create the best wine in Saint-Émilion and knew with the terroir of Château Cheval Blanc, anything was possible. The wines were initially bottled and sold off under the name Château Figeac, but after competing against the Médoc First Growths and winning awards at exhibitions in London and Paris, the name was changed to Château Cheval Blanc – "The House of the White Horse."
In 1998 Château Cheval Blanc was acquired by Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frere who brought on Pierre Lurton of the famous Lurton family to manage the property, in addition to overseeing other top estates such as Château d'Yquem. Under Pierre’s keen eye, the vines at Cheval Blanc are meticulously managed year after year, with the same vineyard worker assigned to the same vine. This is done so the worker develops familiarity with that particular vine. The fruit here is picked, “al dente,” or just underripe so grapes of differing phenolic ripeness can be blended to increase complexity to the wine. The wines are vinified in their state-of-the-art gravity flow vat room.
"Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, the 2015 Cheval Blanc is still incredibly primary at this very youthful stage. With coaxing, it unfurls to reveal beguiling notions of ripe black cherries, mulberries, licorice, baking spices and smoked meats with touches of incense and potpourri plus wafts of cast iron pan and crushed rocks. Full-bodied, very rich, very firm/taut and with very ripe, fine-grained tannins, it allows a glimpse at its incredible depth of flavors with a very long multi-layered finish. Wow." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (8/31/2018, Issue 238), Ratings: 100, Drink: 2027-2067
"As many readers may know, 2015 was the first year since 1988 that Cheval Blanc did not produce its second wine, Petit Cheval. This said, parts of two of the Cheval Blanc blocks were not used at all—Plot 17A and the north part of Plot 10—which had problems with water availability during the dry spell, and the fruit was sold for bulk. Therefore, this vintage of the Grand Vin equates to roughly 90% of the total production, making it one of the most complete expressions of Cheval Blanc ever produced. Composed of 53% Merlot and 47% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2015 Cheval Blanc slowly opens up to reveal plum preserves, black forest cake, blackberry pie and pronounced licorice notes with suggestions of cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise, dried Provence herbs and lavender plus wafts of iron ore and dusty soil. Medium to full-bodied, rich and densely packed with incredible layers of black, red and blue fruits, it completely fills the palate with energy and expression, framed by very ripe, wonderfully velvety tannins and a racy line of acid, finishing with incredible length and poise. At once achingly graceful and captivatingly cerebral, this is a legendary vintage for this great estate." - Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (2/21/2018, Interim Issue), Ratings: 100, Drink: 2022-2058
"The 2015 Cheval Blanc represents the entire vineyard this year, since there is no Le Petit Cheval (two plots that did not meet requirements were not included in any blend). A blend of 45% Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon and 55% Merlot, matured in 100% new oak, it has a very complex bouquet, subtle and tightly wound, very precise with dark berry fruit, hints of graphite, minerals and a hint of black pepper, perhaps a little spicier than recent vintages. The palate is medium-bodied with extraordinarily fine tannin. Beautifully balanced, perfectly controlled, this Cheval Blanc gently builds in the mouth, but remains strict and precise. The Cabernet Franc here is very expressive (though apparently the Merlot was showier prior to malolactic). This is an intellectual Cheval Blanc, thoroughly enjoyable, but it will need 10-12 years to really show its pedigree. A profound wine in the making, it will rank with the great wines of the past." - Neal Martin, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (4/27/2016, Issue 224), Ratings: 97-99, Drink: 2025-2065
"I continue to absolutely love the 2015 Chateau Cheval Blanc. It’s one of those powerful, sexy, yet also weightless and elegant wines that’s going to drink well all its life. Checking in as a blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Franc brought up in new barrels, it offers a kaleidoscope of aromas and flavors led by beautiful sweet fruits as well as incredible floral, spice, and graphite nuances. It’s full-bodied, with a rich, rounded, opulent texture, sweet tannins, and a blockbuster finish. As with a lot of 2015s, it has the sweetness of fruit and ripe tannin that allows it to drink well today, but it’s going to be very long-lived and have 3-4 decades of prime drinking." Jeb Dunnuck, Up From The Cellar #6 & Misc New Releases, 6/14/2019 Rating: 98
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