The 2021 Cheval Blanc is one of the wines of the vintage. Vertical and aristocratic in bearing, Cheval is just stunning. Time in the glass brings out compelling inner sweetness and perfume to play off a core of rich dark fruit, gravel, spice, menthol and dried flowers. I also tasted the final three blending components, none of which hints at the magnificence of the Grand Vin. Stunning.
Anticipated maturity: 2031-2061
Jane Anson 96
The 30th anniversary with Pierre Lurton as director, and the last official year as Premier Grand Cru Classé A following their withdrawal from the St Emilion ranking. Worth marking out for that fact alone, along with Ausone and Angélus, as whatever happens next there might be kudos in future years for having the last vintage where these three estates were at the top of the classification. This is easily one of the wines of the vintage, powerful, classical and intellectual, with stretched out, taut tannins and a slow build of raspberry, redcurrant and blueberry fruits, run through with rosebud and peony aromatics. It’s not voluptuous like the 2015 or 2018 Cheval, but has gorgeous balance and depth, and will deliver for decades, putting it in a select band of 2021 estates. Biggest percentage of Cabernet Franc since 2011, and the first time to use more Cabernet Franc than Merlot in the blend. Ageing is expected to be 19 months, to ensure a little extra polish on the tannins. No chaptilisation. Lurton’s first vintage of 1991, by the way, was also impacted by frost, but far more severely, to the point where they made no 1st wine for the only time in their modern history.
Anticipated maturity: 2026-2042
Robert Parker 95-97
A terrific achievement, the 2021 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Unfurling in the glass with aromas of raspberries and cherries mingled with notions of cigar wrapper, vine smoke, rose petals and violets, it’s full-bodied, layered and concentrated, with an elegantly muscular chassis of ripe, powdery tannin and lively animating acids. Long and penetrating, this is a serious, rather structured young Cheval Blanc that will require and reward patience.
James Suckling 97-98
This is so finely textured with very precise, tight tannins. Medium to full body. Lots of layers here with black and blue fruit, stones, tar, dark cocoa and spices. Dried herbs. Long and persistent. Stays focused all the way. So precise. 52% cabernet franc, 43% merlot and 5% cabernet sauvignon.