You may be surprised to find out that I stopped by my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan, before my Bride and I took off for a little getaway. Immediately, I was spoiled when they poured me some Chateau Cheval Blanc “Le Petit Cheval” Bordeaux Blanc 2019; and they jokingly called it Cheval Blanc Blanc. Some of you may think of Chateau Cheval Blanc as the star of a film, featuring some rather loathsome characters based in the wine country of central California that lauded Pinot Noir and castigated Merlot.
Chateau Cheval Blanc may be the most famous and prestigious Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend wine in the world. They also produce a second label red wine “Le Petit Cheval” and then they also have “Le Petit Cheval” Bordeaux Blanc. Years ago, when I was still in high school, one of my wine mentors told me, that many of the great houses have a wine, that they really only make for themselves and if you ever get a chance, enjoy it. This was advice given fifty years ago, and it still holds true today. There are six parcels, almost four hectares on the estate planted with Sauvignon Blanc. After the pressing of the grapes, the musts are fermented in new oak, in demi-muids and wooden vats. Then the juice that has been stored and racked in these different containers are blended after six months and then they are allowed to age for an additional eighteen months. The wine was almost crystal in color with yellow and green highlights and offered notes of white fruit, white flowers, herbs and flint. On the palate tones of peaches and pears, perfect acidity with just the proper amount of sweetness and lilacs. With the longest count finish for a Sauvignon Blanc that I have ever had with fresh tastes of terroir and more floral tones. It is probably a good thing that my Bride was not with me, as we may have both had to get jobs; I am still enthralled with this wine.
Chateau Cheval Blanc is a Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Cru Classe A and is considered one of the longest-lived wines of Saint-Emilion easily aging for forty to fifty years. The vineyard abuts to Pomerol and has thirty-nine hectares, divided into forty-five plots; about fifty-two percent Cabernet Franc, forty-three percent Merlot and five percent Cabernet Sauvignon. The estate is noted for having a fifty/fifty mix of two types of soils, one of clay and the other gravel. The estate had vineyards since the 14th Century, but it was the 19th Century when it started getting rave reviews, eventually being considered on par with the First Growth of the Medoc. In 1955, they were awarded Premier Grand Cru Classe A. After one-hundred-sixty-six years of continuous family ownership, in 1998, the estate was purchased by Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH and the late Albert Frere, a Belgian investor. In 2011, they opened a new cellar, and they now have production of about eighty-thousand bottles each year.