Classification: First Growth (Premier Grand Cru Classé A)
Cheval Blanc began life as part of the Figeac estate and in 1832 this portion of land was acquired by the Ducasse family. The 100 acre vineyard of Château Cheval Blanc is unusual in that it borders the stony plateau of Pomerol and takes on some of those qualities, it spans the gravel ridge which travels across to Château Figeac and also covers terroir typical of Saint Emilion.
In 1852 Henriette Ducasse married Jean Laussac-Fourcaud who acquired more land, renovated the vineyard and began construction of the château. He also installed a network of field drains, preventing the flooding which up until that point had plagued the vines; this was the first St Emilion estate to be blessed with such a system. According to tradition the château was built on an old inn which was named Cheval Blanc. The story behind the name is that Henry IV (1553 1610) once stayed at the inn, having ridden there on his famous white steed. The French still have a joke which goes De quelle couleur est le cheval blanc de Henri Quatre? (What colour was Henry IV’s white horse?)
The wines under the new label of Cheval Blanc won medals at the International London and Paris Exhibitions in 1862 and 1867 and the château remained in the family until 1998 when it was sold to Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury goods group LVMH, and Belgian businessman Albert Frère (also owners of Château d’Yquem), with Pierre Lurton installed as estate manager.
The grapes grown at Chateau Cheval Blanc are unusual as they are not the atypical Saint Emilion Merlot dominated vines. They are 57% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot and small parcels of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wines of Château Cheval Blanc are mythical in their ageing potential and can last for 50 years or more. The wines are opulent, luscious and full of finesse. They are approachable whilst young and have notes of blackcurrant, smoke, raspberry, mocha, cherry and leather. The wines are elegantly structured, well layered and due to their ageing potential should be cellared correctly.
Owner: LVMH/Bernault Arnault/Albert Frere (also own Sauternes Chateau d'Yquem)
Chateau Website: www.chateau-cheval-blanc.com