Best of the Best 2008: International Red Wines: Château Cheval Blanc 2005 St.-Émilion Grand Cru

  • Anthony Dias Blue

One can say little about Château Cheval Blanc that has not been said already by someone, somewhere, sometime. But much of this commentary —centuries’ worth, in fact— bears repeating, if only for the tantalizing pleasure of kindling our expectations while we wait for the next vintage to mature. This is a wine that, once tasted, is never forgotten. I recently had the immense pleasure of attending a vertical tasting that included 34 vintages from the estate. Virtually all of the bottles came directly from the cellars of the château. It was the tasting of a lifetime.

Located at the edge of St.-Émilion, adjacent to the Pomerol border, Cheval Blanc makes wine from nearly equal parts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc; no other great Bordeaux contains as much of the latter varietal. The result is a wine that is delicious when young but that lasts for decades, developing complexity and bouquet with each passing year. My recent vertical culminated with the 1899 vintage, which was still lively and complex at the age of 108: silky, racy, and toasty, rich with rancio, dark amber in color, yet still remarkably fresh, balanced, and totally clean.

Château Cheval Blanc was owned by the Fourcaud-Laussac family for 166 years. They sold the property in 1998 to Bernard Arnault, the billionaire head of LVMH, and Albert Frère, the wealthiest man in Belgium. Pierre Lurton was installed as president and general manager of the estate, positions he also holds at Château d’Yquem. Both properties continue to thrive under his direction.

The 2005 vintage is not just exceptional; it is generally regarded by many Bordeaux vintners as the best in a half century. As might be expected, Cheval Blanc outperforms, exhibiting a heady nose of lush black fruit and spice followed by complex notes of cocoa, vanillin, and berry on the palate. It finishes as seamlessly as it begins.

Château Cheval Blanc, www.chateau-cheval-blanc.com ($1,100)

Read Next Article >>
Photo by Bob McClenahan
The bottles from the $6 million worth of barrels sold will be available in as soon as one year…
Because it is not aged entirely in new American oak barrels, the whiskey is not technically bourbon…
A limited-edition release from Legacy Brands that gets its name from the Spanish word for “turtle...
Photo by Andrea de Maria
Though banking, land, and vines have occupied Florence’s Frescobaldi family for more than 700 years...
The growing retro-cocktail trend is putting gin back in the spotlight…
corderostudios.com
Jim Clendenen has been preaching the benefits of restraint and balance for decades...
The lots from the private auction become available through the retailers and restaurateurs bidding…
More than 60 exclusive treasures and experiences will cross the block…
Photo by Paul Dimalanta
At the Judgment of Paris in 1976, a bottle of Chardonnay from the Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena...
As prices for rare Cubans rise, it is getting harder to put a match to the most collectible cigars...