Vertical Tasting of Chateau Cheval Blanc (Oct 2011)

(a blend of 56% merlot and 44% cabernet franc; 13% alcohol; 32 h/h): Bright ruby. Ripe, intensely pure black cherry, blackcurrant, floral and milk chocolate aromas. Enters silky and suave, with rich red cherry and blackcurrant flavors that give the middle palate a fruit cocktail quality. Almost more Pomerol than Saint-Emilion here, with a rich, fleshy mouth feel and highly polished tannins. Finishes very long and suave, with a pretty smoky, floral note. I also had the opportunity to taste the pure bottlings of the 1998 Cheval’s merlot and cabernet franc, and the cabernet franc was absolutely mesmerizing; the best of these lots went into the Cheval Blanc, and the wine is noticeably better than the Petit Cheval of the same year. That said, given the truly amazing quality of the cabernet franc this vintage, I am utterly convinced that having included more of it in Cheval Blanc’s final blend would have turned this into one of the estate’s five or six best wines ever. The 1998 vintage recorded temperatures close to the yearly averages throughout the growth cycle, and though not particularly hot, it was one of the drier years on record; the harvest took place from September 28 through October 6.