A Glimpse into Elegance: Château Cheval Blanc - Oldest &Truest First Growth on the Right Bank
Nestled in the heart of Bordeaux's famed Saint-Émilion appellation, the Château Cheval Blanc is a name that resonates with connoisseurs of fine wine. This esteemed estate is renowned not only for its exceptional wines but also for its rich history and timeless elegance.
A Legacy of Excellence
Château Cheval Blanc has a storied history dating back to the 19th century, and it has consistently produced some of the most celebrated wines in Bordeaux. Cheval Blanc's prestigious history began in 1832 when Jean-Jacques Ducasse acquired the core estate. Over two decades, plots from Château Figeac expanded the 39-hectare vineyard, however the layout remained largely unchanged. The marriage of Jean-Jacques' daughter, Henriette, to the Libourne wine merchant Jean Laussac-Fourcaud marked a defining chapter in the Estates history.
Henriette's inheritance prompted a significant renovation, including implementing an advanced drainage system after understanding the importance of water stress to produce the finest wines. The vineyard saw the most progress, as Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, recognizing Cheval Blanc's potential, replanted it in the 1860s with an unusual blend: half Merlot (the king of the right bank) and half Cabernet Franc.
In 1852, the wine adopted the name Cheval Blanc, embarking on a prestigious journey. It achieved the highest Saint-Emilion classification, Premier Grand Cru Classé (A), in 1954, retaining it in each subsequent decade. In 1998, Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère took the helm, infusing new energy while preserving the château's heritage. Quality now reigns supreme, requiring meticulous attention and precision to the winemaking.
The Unique Terroir
One of the defining characteristics of Château Cheval Blanc is its unique terroir. The estate is situated on the border between the Saint-Émilion and Pomerol appellations, an exceptional location that combines the finest elements of both. The vineyards at Cheval Blanc are primarily planted with Cabernet Franc (52%) and Merlot (43%), including a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (5%). What sets Cheval Blanc apart is its remarkably diverse soil composition, creating a unique combination of terroir. This exceptional terroir consists predominantly of clay and large gravel in some areas, while others boast sandy soil with smaller gravel. Most estates in Saint-Emilion possess excellent gravelly soil and others in Saint-Emilion and Pomerol feature high-quality clay soils, Cheval Blanc is fortunate to enjoy a nearly equal balance of both.
The Unique Percentage of Cabernet Franc
Château Cheval Blanc is renowned for its high percentage of exceptional Cabernet Franc grapes, and the secret lies in the age and location of their vines. The estate boasts an impressive vineyard with an average vine age of 45 years, and a notable portion of 39 hectares with 52% dedicated to Cabernet Franc. What sets Cheval Blanc apart is the existence of some truly ancient vines, with parcels of Cabernet Franc dating back to 1920, over a century in age.
These old vines play a pivotal role in Cheval Blanc's winemaking philosophy, serving as the foundation for their massal selection program. Particularly, the best parcel is strategically positioned in the heart of their vineyards, directly in front of the Chateau. Here, amidst the deep, blue clay soils, thrive the older Cabernet Franc vines. This unique combination of old vines and distinctive terroir contributes to the complexity and character of Cheval Blanc's Cabernet Franc.
The estate's microclimate, characterized by a slightly warmer and precocious nature, further enhances the quality of their Cabernet Franc. This climatic advantage aids in the optimal ripening of grapes, allowing them to express the full spectrum of flavors and aromas.
The Legendary Wines
Château Cheval Blanc is renowned for producing wines that are often described as ethereal, graceful, and profoundly elegant. These wines are characterized by their harmonious balance, fine tannins, and a unique blend of power and finesse. The estate's flagship wine, Château Cheval Blanc, is primarily a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Each vintage is a testament to the exceptional wine making skills and meticulous attention to detail that define the château's approach.
The winemaking philosophy at Château Cheval Blanc revolves around respecting the fruit's integrity and the terroir's expression. Traditional methods are combined with modern techniques to produce wines that capture the essence of the vineyard and the vintage. The estate is known for its rigorous grape selection, hand harvesting, and a dedication to producing wines that are capable of aging gracefully for decades.
“Drops Of God”
Château Cheval Blanc plays a significant role in the popular manga series, recently turned TV series "Drops of God" ("Kami no Shizuku" in Japanese), written by Tadashi Agi and illustrated by Shu Okimoto. The manga revolves around the world of wine, following the protagonist, Shizuku Kanzaki, on a quest to identify and taste thirteen legendary wines to inherit his late father's vast wine collection.
Among these worldclass wines, Château Cheval Blanc emerges as a prominent player, capturing the imagination of characters and readers alike. The vineyard, nestled in the Saint-Émilion region of Bordeaux, becomes a symbol of excellence and a pivotal element in the unfolding drama. The manga beautifully captures the essence of this Bordeaux marvel, depicting the vineyard as not merely a setting but as a character in its own right. Readers are treated to a sensory exploration of the vineyard's history, winemaking techniques, and the distinct characteristics that make each vintage a masterpiece.
The manga series has recently been made into a gripping TV series, making it almost impossible not to enjoy a glass of wine while watching the excitement unfold from episode to episode.
story to be continued…
Château Cheval Blanc stands as a testament to the Bordeaux region's timeless beauty and its commitment to producing wines of unparalleled elegance. Its wines have captured the hearts of wine enthusiasts worldwide and have become a symbol of the region's winemaking excellence. Take a moment to browse our inventory of Cheval Blanc and possibly treat yourself or a loved one to one of Château Cheval Blanc's masterpieces.