Chateau Cheval Blanc, a 39-hectare estate, sits on top of the Saint-Emilion appellation in the commune of Saint-Emilion, on the border of Pomerol. Thanks to its identity drawn from its exceptional terroir as well as its choice of bold grape varieties, the estate gives birth to wines with a unique character and suitable for aging. Considered as one of the most prestigious wines of Bordeaux, it is classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé A.
OWNERS: Albert Frère and Bernard Arnault
MANAGING DIRECTOR: Pierre Lurton
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Pierre-Olivier Clouet
OENOLOGIST-CONSULTANT: Carole André
APPELLATION : Saint-Émilion
VINEYARD AREA: 39 ha
VINEYARD MANAGEMENT: Sustainable Viticulture
SOILS: Siliceous-clay gravel and blue clay
SOIL MAINTENANCE: Sown with plant cover and green manure
AVERAGE AGE OF THE VINEYARD: 40 years old
GRAPE TYPE: Cabernet Franc (52%), Merlot (43%), Cabernet Sauvignon (5%)
HARVESTING : Manual
VINIFICATION : Thermo-regulated vats
MATURING : Oak barrels
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The career of Cheval Blanc began in 1832 with the purchase of the estate by Jean Ducasse, president of the court of Libourne, who developed it by successively buying plots of land allowing the constitution of the 39-hectare estate (practically identical since). Furthermore, the marriage of his daughter Henriette with Jean Laussac-Foucaud, a wine merchant in Libourne, marked a turning point in the destiny of Château Cheval Blanc. The latter undertook the modernization of the estate in order to give it its brilliance by integrating the hydric constraint into the wine making process. He did not stop there, because in the mid-1860s Jean Laussac-Foucaud replanted part of the property and opted for a singular grape variety: half Merlot and half Cabernet Franc.
Thirty years of hard work to raise Cheval Blanc to the top of the Saint-Emilion wine industry bore fruit. The estate won its first medal in 1862 at the London World's Fair, as well as a second at the Envers World's Fair in 1886. Cheval Blanc thus acquired international recognition and became a great wine. During the 1880s, the wines were invited to Paris and London auctions and to the Presidents' table.
When Jean Laussac-Foucaud died in 1888, his son Albert continued his father's work. His two sons, Jacques and Joseph, continued the work of their father and grandfather. In 1954, the considerable work of these passionate men enabled Château Cheval Blanc to be classified as a Premier Grand Cru Classé "A" in the first classification of Saint-Emilion wines. By maintaining its excellence, it entered the coveted "club of 9" which includes prestigious estates such as Petrus or Margaux.
In 1998, the torch passed on to two friends who love great wines: Bernard Arnault and the Baron Albert Frère, who became the owners of the château. While respecting its history and heritage, they chose to rely on the know-how of the château's teams to preserve its authenticity. Aujourd'hui Cheval Blanc translates into its wines the perpetual search for excellence that has forged its soul for several centuries.
Terroir au patrimoine unique, Château Cheval Blanc, situé sur la commune de Saint-Emilion bénéficie d’un héritage naturel. A la limite de Pomerol, le domaine couvre 39 hectares presque inchangés, divisés en 45 parcelles ayant chacune leur identité unique.
De par sa situation géographique, le domaine dispose de deux types de sol cohabitants en proportions à peu près égales : d’excellents sols graveleux à la texture plutôt grossière et de très bons sols argileux à la texture plus fine et sableuse. A cette richesse naturelle s’ajoute un encépagement original constitué de 52% de Cabernet Franc, 43% de Merlot et 5% de Cabernet Sauvignon. Cet assemblage donne naissance à des vins puissants et élégants, d’une expression aromatique des plus complexes.
Inaugurated in June 2011 and entirely imagined by the architect Christian de Portzamparc, the Château Cheval Blanc winery is a high quality artistic work at the service of wine. This 6,000m2 workshop brings together ancestral practices and technology to respect the heritage of Cheval Blanc wines.
Natural light penetrating the vat room illuminates the silhouettes of fifty-two concrete vats from Italy lined up in six rows and available in nine distinct formats. With a capacity ranging from 10 to 110 hectoliters, each vat is dedicated to a single plot of land on the estate. On its side, it has two plates: a fixed one indicating its number and capacity and a removable one on which appears the plot number, the grape variety and the date of planting of the vine. With the help of the chateau's teams, these tools contribute to the elaboration of "made-to-measure" wines.
This winery also has the distinction of being the first in its category to be awarded the HQE (High Environmental Quality) label, which rewards the care taken in the choice of building materials, energy savings, water management and waste sorting. It was also awarded the famous International Architecture Prize by the Chicago Athenaeum in 2013. This award covers the most prestigious building distinction program honoring novelty. Château Cheval Blanc is the first to receive such an award for its winery.
It all starts with the harvest, which is done exclusively by hand with about fifty pickers who proceed to a collection that we call "à la carte". The bunches are harvested and placed in 20 kilo crates to be transported to the winery and sorted. At the exit of the sorting tables, the grapes are placed in vats and then transported to their destination tank. Thus the process of vinification can begin.
The alcoholic fermentation starts on the second day under the action of yeasts in thermo-regulated tanks. After pumping over several times a day, the juice is kept in the tanks at a temperature of 28 to 30˚. This post-fermentation phase allows the tannic structure to soften and become more silky. Next comes malolactic fermentation, which lasts from three weeks to several months. This is carried out in other vats at a temperature of 20˚ in order to soften the sensation of acidity and stabilize the wine.
At the end of the vinification, the wine will stay between 16 and 18 months in barrels, in the basement of the winery in a large room maintained at 14˚. The different parcels are thus distributed in aging in 300 to 450 barrels. These barrels are made from old French oak and are replaced each year. They allow the wine to blossom while respecting its structure. During the maturing process, each barrel is racked 5 to 7 times. This is a manual operation in order to offer a perfect clarification. This know-how is particularly precise and is in line with one of the fundamental values of the château: precision of gesture.
The teams then proceed to the blending while respecting the style of Cheval Blanc: freshness, elegance, finesse, length and balance. Once finished, the blended wine goes back down to the naturally ventilated barrel cellar, where it will rest for a year.
The Cuvées of
The Grand Vin de Cheval Blanc comes from a blend of massal selections from very old vines. It is a grand cru all in roundness with the complexity of the cabernet franc and the richness of the merlot.
Château Cheval Blanc also has a second wine. Born in 1988, Petit Cheval comes from the same exceptional terroir as the grand vin. It is an elegant grand cru, powerful but not overbearing, offering aromas of red and black fruits as well as floral notes.
Since the 2014 vintage, Cheval Blanc also offers a white wine, appellation Bordeaux Blanc, Le Petit Cheval Blanc. This wine, a blend of Sauvignon and Semillon grapes, offers notes of white fruits and flowers mixed with a mineral side.