Cheval Blanc 2016, a penetrating and top class Saint-Emilion
In this vintage, the water stress on the vines was significant, yet grape maturity was achieved thanks to showers on September 13t. Château Cheval Blanc did not suffer from these climatic conditions. The exceptional terroir of this 1er cru classé A of Saint-Emilion was fresh and the vines prepared for the extreme situations imposed by the 2016 season. The 2016 Cheval Blanc blend is dominated by Merlot at 59% with 38% Cabernet Franc and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, which returns in this year’s blend.
Cheval Blanc 2016 is dark with an inky color. The wine is dense and concentrated with elegance. Very classy! The nose at first expresses delicate fragrances of mint and bigarreau black cherry. The aromas are penetrating and indulgent with an intense freshness. Very pure, the nose, upon stirring, is complemented by a mineral character, almost like graphite. The aromatic depth does not present itself immediately, but the wine has a very wide aromatic spectrum that will reveal itself over time. The palate has plenty of class. The attack is lively and gives this wine a dazzling and dynamic character. The mid-palate is creamy and easy-drinking despite its 14.25 °C of alcohol. The tannic structure is classy and shows absolute maturity in both the Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Sauvignon, which here is a sign of splendid structure. The retro-olfaction is fruity and the finish long. The frankness and density of this Cheval Blanc 2016 deserves respect. What a success! Definitely a wine with great aging potential!
Wine Advocate-Parker :
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.