The 2018 Le Petit Blanc, the first vintage to include Sémillon, has an intriguing, well-defined bouquet of gooseberry, Nashi pear, glimpses of apricot blossom and praline emanating from the Sémillon. The palate is medium-bodied with good weight, a satisfying sense of harmony, and a slightly oily texture. It is not overly complex but taut and focused, leading into a lightly spiced, quasi-Alsace finish.
Drink 2021 - 2029
Neal Martin, Vinous.com (March 2021)
The 2018 Le Petit Cheval Bordeaux Blanc is bright and finely cut, with pretty citrus, sage, mint and floral notes. Airy and beautifully lifted, the 2018 is a gorgeous dry white to drink now and over the next handful of years.
Drink 2021 - 2028
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (March 2021)
Fresh acidities ensure a brisk pace from the first moment, and this is a bright, grippy white wine with clarity of flavour in the citrus, lemongrass and rosemary notes, slowing down on the finish with graphite and slate hints. As it opens up, richer stone fruit becomes clearer. The first year with Sémillon added to the wine, after being entirely Sauvignon Blanc since its launch in 2014. Aged for 18 months in new oak, demi-muids and vats (14 and 26hl) ensure a rich texture and draw out the finish. Le Petit Cheval Blanc comes from 6.6ha of vines in what was previously Ch la Tour du Pin—tasted at a château vertical this summer.
Drink 2021 - 2024
Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com (July 2021)
Second vintage ever. Cork with wax on top.
Quite a stinky, obvious Pessac-Léognan nose. Rich, lanolin-textured, rather luxurious wine. Long and satisfying with excellent balance. Serious.
Drink 2022 - 2032
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (February 2022)
Cheval Blanc’s relatively new white wine, the 2018 Le Petit Cheval Blanc, is a blend of 74% Sauvignon Blanc and 26% Sémillon. This is the first vintage that the Sémillon plantings have come online to make the blend. Profound notions of ripe pineapple, passion fruit and white peaches explode from the glass, followed by fragrant notes of lemongrass, lime blossoms and yuzu zest with a waft of sea spray. The palate is full-bodied with an alluring oiliness to the texture and layer upon layer of tropical fruits, citrus peel and minerals, marked by a refreshing line and finishing with loads of mineral sparks.
Put aside all your preconceptions of “Bordeaux Blanc”, and don’t even try to compare it to Pessac-Leognan. This has its own gorgeous expression of these grapes, defying regional tradition. Give yourself over to the rich decadence of this flamboyant white that is at once without peers but is also quintessentially Cheval Blanc.
Drink 2022 - 2032
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate (March 2021)
74% Sauvignon Blanc and 26% Sémillon.
A wonderful and rather exotic white with aromas of pears, lychees, lemons and some green apples that follow through to the palate and show layers of dreamy texture and a long, flavorful finish. The texture is more like a red than a white. It was fermented and aged in slightly larger oak barrels. This is a special wine and the best release so far. Very intense. One for the cellar.
James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com (May 2023)
About this WINE
Chateau Cheval Blanc
Cheval Blanc's vineyards (Merlot 39%, Cabernet Franc 57%, Malbec 3%, Cabernet Sauvignon 1%) enjoy a variety of soils: gravel, clay and sand, all underpinned by an impermeable sedimentary rock (`crasse de fer'). Fermentation and maceration last 4 weeks in stainless steel vats, followed by 18 months' maturation in new oak barrels.
Cheval Blanc produces the most famous Cabernet Franc-based wine in the world and present régisseur Pierre Lurton is amongst the most talented winemakers working in Bordeaux today. Cheval Blanc requires a minimum 10 years of bottle age and the best vintages can last for 50 years or more.
St Emilion is one of Bordeaux's largest producing appellations, producing more wine than Listrac, Moulis, St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux put together. St Emilion has been producing wine for longer than the Médoc but its lack of accessibility to Bordeaux's port and market-restricted exports to mainland Europe meant the region initially did not enjoy the commercial success that funded the great châteaux of the Left Bank.
St Emilion itself is the prettiest of Bordeaux's wine towns, perched on top of the steep limestone slopes upon which many of the region's finest vineyards are situated. However, more than half of the appellation's vineyards lie on the plain between the town and the Dordogne River on sandy, alluvial soils with a sprinkling of gravel.
Further diversity is added by a small, complex gravel bed to the north-east of the region on the border with Pomerol. Atypically for St Emilion, this allows Cabernet Franc and, to a lesser extent, Cabernet Sauvignon to prosper and defines the personality of the great wines such as Ch. Cheval Blanc.
In the early 1990s there was an explosion of experimentation and evolution, leading to the rise of the garagistes, producers of deeply-concentrated wines made in very small quantities and offered at high prices. The appellation is also surrounded by four satellite appellations, Montagne, Lussac, Puisseguin and St. Georges, which enjoy a family similarity but not the complexity of the best wines.
St Emilion was first officially classified in 1954, and is the most meritocratic classification system in Bordeaux, as it is regularly amended. The most recent revision of the classification was in 2012
The main grape for Sauternes and particularly successfully grown in Australia's Hunter Valley. Hunter Valley Sémillon is one of Australia’s iconic and unique wines, totally unlike any wine produced elsewhere in the world from the same grape variety.
In youth the wines are quite citrusy and fresh, but are generally perceived to gain hugely in complexity as they age and are deemed to be best drunk when at least 5 years old, frequently lasting for 10 or more years. Unusually for Australia, the alcohol levels rarely exceed 11.5%.
In Bordeaux it is the most widely planted white grape and is blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the great long-lived dry whites of Graves as well as the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It is high in alcohol and extract and relatively low in aroma and acidity. Its thin skin makes it very susceptible to botrytis which is prerequisite for the making of Sauternes. It responds well to oak ageing and, while having a lightly lemony aroma when young develops lanolin flavours which some describe as "waxy", as well as a rich, creamy, intense, texture and a deep golden colour.