Bordeaux 2016: Chateau Cheval Blanc and Petit Cheval

Bordeaux 2016: Chateau Cheval Blanc and Petit Cheval
Cheval Blanc is unquestionably one of the wines of the vintage. It has a haunting power, immense presence and effortless charm. Pierre Lurton has steered this great estate back to the very top of the Bordeaux hierarchy. The 2016 is certainly on a par with the outstanding 2015, perhaps it will be better, only time will tell. We were enthralled by the purity and precision of the 2016. It is quite captivating, it conceals its depth and power, slowly revealing its potential; this is as ravishing and elegant as it gets. The other big news is that Petit Cheval is back. After a year off, Cheval’s second wine is back with a bang. It’s a minute cuvee (just 7% of the total production), but the quality is exceptional. Made in very much the same vein as the Grand Vin – it really is very grown up and refined for a second wine.

‘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. Drink Date 2024 – 2060. 97-99/100’ - Neal Martin,

‘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. 98-99/100’. - James Suckling,

‘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. Hints of espresso, plum, spice and wild cherry all develop in the glass, but it is the wine's feel and vivid personality that stand out most. I expect the 2016 will put on weight during its aging, both in barrel and later in bottle. It is an absolutely stunning wine in every way. 96-99/100’. - Antonio Galloni,

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