1947 Chateau Cheval Blanc

Year: 1947
Appellation: Saint-Emilion
Country: France
Wine Spectator: 95
Wine Advocate: 100
Vinous Media: 98
Jeff Leve: 95
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.4%
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"There is quite a bit of bottle variation associated with this classic wine. We tasted two magnums of this monumental vintage with dinner, both château-bottled. One showed noticeable volatile acidity (not unusual at Cheval-Blanc); the better bottle had been recently recorked at the château. Both showed the dark color, thick texture, high alcohol and rich flavors of roasted fruit, chocolate and minerals classic in this wine. It's so powerful and rich that it's hard to believe it's more than half-a-century old, and it will still hold for years.--Cheval-Blanc vertical. -TM" (WS)

"What can I say about this mammoth wine that is more like port than dry red table wine? The 1947 Cheval Blanc exhibits such a thick texture it could double as motor oil. The huge nose of fruitcake, chocolate, leather, coffee, and Asian spices is mind-boggling. The unctuous texture and richness of sweet fruit are amazing. Consider the fact that this wine is, technically, appallingly deficient in acidity and excessively high in alcohol. Moreover, its volatile acidity levels would be considered intolerable by modern day oenologists. Yet how can they explain that after 47 years the wine is still remarkably fresh, phenomenally concentrated, and profoundly complex? It has to make you wonder about the direction of modern day winemaking. Except for one dismal, murky, troubled, volatile double-magnum, this wine has been either perfect or nearly perfect every time I have had it. But beware, there are numerous fraudulent bottles, particularly magnums, of 1947 Cheval Blanc in the marketplace. Having a 1947 Cheval Blanc served out of an impeccably stored magnum three times over the last three years made me once again realize what a great job I have. The only recent Bordeaux vintages that come even remotely close to the richness, texture, and viscosity of so many of these right bank 1947s are 1982 and 1990. Last tasted 10/94" (WA)(12/97)

"(14.4% alcohol; 37.4 h/h): Amazingly vivid ruby-red color with only a hint of garnet at the rim. Explosive nose combines intensely minty notes with liqueur-like plum, blackberries macerated in alcohol, pine needles, sweet coffee and Oriental spices. This is a slightly more herbal bottle than the four others I have had before, all of which were alcoholic (but balanced) fruit bombs on the nose. Broad, lush and sweet in the mouth, with an exotic high-toned quality to the almost porty, very viscous flavors of dark berries, coffee, dark chocolate and vanilla. This verges on jammy but stays fresh thanks to sound acidity. The extremely long finish features a pronounced note of coffee grounds, very chewy but noble tannins and some residual sugar; in fact, this is downright port-like in its rich, round, alcoholic persistence. Undoubtedly a great wine, but I think it's more emblematic of the hot 1947 vintage than of Cheval Blanc. I found this particular bottle a little less thrilling than the two I had most recently tasted, but readers may want to take note that this wine is considered by some critics as one of the three or four greatest red wines ever made anywhere." (VM) (10/11)

"This deeply colored wine offered an array of aromatics including plums, spices, leather, earth and chocolate mint. The wine was clearly concentrated offering great depth. The palate presence was very weighty, but, the finish seemed a little shorter than you find in the best bottles of 47 Cheval Blanc. Still, this was an honor and a treat to taste 15455 Views Tasted Jun 15, 2008" (JL)

Winery Notes:
1947 is considered a miraculous vintage, the greatest Cheval Blanc of the 20th century. It is both very powerful and extremely well-balanced. Due to its high percentage of alcohol, combined with some residual sugar, many tasters consider this wine totally extraordinary and unique in the world of wine. Despite its age, it is in spectacular form and utterly fascinating.

The 1947 vintage was abnormally hot and dry, which accounted for very concentrated grapes. The harvest began on the 15th of September, i.e. two weeks before the usual date.

The overall level of alcohol was 14.4°. Since the beginning of the 20th century, only the 1929 vintage had produced riper grapes (14°6 potential alcohol). The sweet juice combined with hot weather during the harvest made fermentation difficult, even calling for bringing huge blocks of ice in from Bordeaux every day in order to cool down the cellar. The wine is not perfectly dry (there are 3 g/l of residual sugar) and the level of volatile acidity is rather high. However, these two factors actually help support the structure and enhance the aromas. That is because the wine's natural richness does not make them seem like defects. It can even be said that this great wine is something of an accident. During this post-war period, the estate did not have access to new barrels, so ones five to ten years old, were used.


The nose of this legendary wine is marked by alcohol. Incredibly rich, the aromas of this wine include pastry, macaroon, almond, fig, cherry kernel, and orange.

The aromas of almond also evoke fruit brandy. Especially, strawberry jam dominates this nose of a rare and sublime complexity.

In the mouth the wine seems thicker and alcohol is noticeable. Fat and dense, it is a full, rich and complete wine. It seems maderized, with aromas of plum pie, but with a touch of freshness which translates into aromas of fresh figs, but also by intense floral aromas of wisteria and white flowers such as acacia.

After aeration, coffee, mocha and cocoa reveal, together with acacia honey. Its length is endless and remains with a very intense perception.