2018 Chateau Cheval Blanc

Year: 2018
Appellation: Saint-Emilion
Country: France
Wine Advocate: 97-99
Vinous Media: 97-100
James Suckling: 98-99
Jeb Dunnuck: 97-100--Wine Enthusiast: 96-98--Jeff Leve: 98-100
Red Wine
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"Thirty-three plots contributed to this wine, out of the 43 in production. Five went into Petit Cheval and five into bulk. The 2018 Cheval Blanc is a blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, with a 3.75 pH and 14.5% alcohol. Deep purple-black in color, the nose is more open at the core of the wine than the Le Petit Cheval, strutting out of the glass with bold, ripe black cherries, cassis, warm plums and raspberry preserves notes. With coaxing, a whole array of fragrant spice, floral and earth notes emerge, followed by candied violets, star anise, powdered cinnamon, iron ore, tapenade and truffles plus wafts of camphor and mocha. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is firm yet possesses a beautifully plush structure of velvety tannins wrapping round the densely packed, complex, fragrant fruit, with seamless freshness and a very long, layered finish.

“The berries had a lot of tannins,” commented Technical Director Pierre-Olivier Clouet. “It was a challenge to ripen all those tannins!” Cheval Blanc had a particularly long harvest, being among the last to bring in the final parcels of Cabernet Franc on October 11. “We had to wait for each plot to get the right maturity,” added Clouet. “This gave us these wines with great drinkability—very silky and round.”

Yields were a very healthy 43 hectoliters per hectare this year. “Too small of a yield would have been detrimental,” said Clouet. “We had to find the balance in the weather that followed.”

Pierre Lurton, the Director of Cheval Blanc and d'Yquem, joined us at this stage. “This wine truly represents the whole vineyard,” he was excited to add. “Seventy-four percent of our total production went into Cheval Blanc this year, including components of the whole vineyard. Young vines, old vines, clay, gravel and sand—all participated in the final blend.”

This vintage of Cheval Blanc is astonishingly beautiful. Even if the wine doesn’t eventually wind up with a perfect score for this vintage, what I particularly love about the 2018 is that it is so true to the heart-and-soul signature of this amazing vineyard. And, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but maybe that is even more important than a perfect score?" (WA)

"The 2018 Cheval Blanc is dazzling. Creamy, supple and inviting, the 2018 is endowed with phenomenal balance. The tannins and overall structure are imposing, and yet the richness of the fruit and perfect ripeness of the tannin really stand out. In 2018, Cheval is a bit richer than is often the case, but that is not at all a bad thing. I am struck by how much freshness and energy the 2018 has. Hints of lavender, spice and licorice add shades of nuance, but it is the wine's overall sense of harmony that leaves the strongest impression. A precise counterpoint of fruit richness and finesse makes for a truly unforgettable Cheval Blanc. " (VM)

"What strikes you is how aromatic this already is at this stage. Complex and decadent, showing lots of dark berries, smoked meat, wet earth, and dried leaves. Decadent. Full-bodied with very ripe and polished, velvety tannins. Great finish." (JS)

"The 2018 Cheval Blanc is another magical wine from this estate and is certainly in the same league as the 1998, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2015. A blend of 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Cabernet Sauvignon, its deep purple color is followed by a thrillingly complex bouquet of red and black fruits, smoked herbs, liquid flowers, and incense. Possessing medium to full body, flawless integration of its fruit, tannins, and acidity, a terrific mid-palate, and a great finish, it shows the sunny, sexy style of the vintage yet has incredible purity and precision at the same time. It will be accessible with just short-term cellaring yet evolve for 30-40 years." (JD)

"96–98. Barrel Sample. This wine is densely textured in great tannins and wonderful perfumed fruits. It shows an elegant side, with bright shots of acidity and a black currant flavor. Topped with a pinch of Cabernet Sauvignon that adds to the structure, it is a ripe wine but with intense freshness. The tannins hold the key to the aging." (WE)

"Resembling the color of a dark ruby gemstone, this outstanding experience begins with roses, violets, roasted plum, oyster shell, fennel and spice. From there you'll move to the velvet drenched, decadent, opulent, silky palate. The depth of fruit is off the charts. The sensual, sexy feel on the palate is unique. The over 60 second finish is too short because you'll never want it to end. This is bottled decadence. If you can afford it, it is a wine you should have in your cellar and you'll want to age this for at least 15 years before popping a bottle. The wine was made using 54% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Franc and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, reaching 14.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.75. The Merlot was harvested September 10-October 1, Cabernet Franc was picked September 24-October 10 and the Cabernet Sauvignon was picked October 11. " (JL)