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Cheval Blanc 2021

Subregion France > Bordeaux > Right Bank > St Emilion
Grape VarietyCabernet Franc/Merlot

Cheval Blanc is one of the great names of Bordeaux and the most famous château in Saint Emilion. The 39 hectares of vines border Pomerol but the wine is different from Pomerol thanks to the high percentage of Cabernet Franc in the vineyard. A stunning new winery has recently been completed. There is no doubt that this is a great vineyard with an excellent wine-making team led by the talented Pierre-Olivier Clouet and overseen by Pierre Lurton. It is now planted with 49% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Tasting Notes

The 2021 Cheval Blanc has turned out beautifully in bottle, and director Pierre-Olivier Clouet even considers it to be superior to the 2020, a preference that I share. Wafting from the glass with aromas of mulberries and cherries mingled with incense, iris and rose petals, framed by a deft touch of new oak, it's medium to full-bodied, deep and layered, with a velvety attack that segues into a rich, concentrated mid-palate framed by sweet, powdery tannins and concluding with a long, penetrating, rose-inflected finish. Drink 2027-2055.

William Kelley, RobertParker.com, February 2024

The 2021 Cheval Blanc was picked between September 22 and October 14, and for the first time in many years there is a higher proportion of Cabernet Franc. This has a lovely bouquet, very clean and precise, featuring black cherry, wild mint, sous-bois and orange sorbet, all vivacious and very focused. The palate is medium-bodied with fine-grained tannins, quite structured and very linear and strict. A bit like Ausone, this is an uncompromising Cheval Blanc, very saline and marine-influenced. While not as flattering as the 2020, it will appeal more to those who prefer a cerebral Cheval Blanc. One of the stars of the Right Bank in this challenging growing season.

Neal Martin, vinous.com, May 2022

The 2021 at Cheval Blanc brings back a historic, now replanted, plot of Cabernet Franc to its blend, so it is now 52% Cabernet Franc, with 43% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Pierre-Olivier Clouet believes this vintage to represent the freshness that so many wineries and critics have been calling for in the recent warm vintages. The cooler summer has, in their eyes, retained aromatic freshness (harvest was 60 days after veraison rather than the usual 40) and the higher precipitation has given ripeness without hydric stress other than in their younger vines. Vivid purple colour in the glass. Intoxicating aromas that are synonymous with Cheval Blanc are immediate on the nose - blood orange, graphite, seductively ripe cherries and cream, but this is deeply stony in equal measure. The palate offers graphite and tension, an effortless intensity and a deceptively deep structure. The Cabernet Franc drives the palate forward, bringing cool hedgerow fruit, pencil shavings, dry forest floor and even hints of cocoa. A wine of precision and harmony, this is superbly refined with seamless tannins lingering in tandem with the savoury and lightly saline fruit on the finish. This is the essence of what Cheval Blanc are trying to achieve in style, and is one of the wines to harness the best of the vintage and overcome much of the difficulty. Excellent.

Thomas Parker MW, Farr Vintners, April 2022

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.

James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com, May 2022

A blend of 52% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2021 Cheval Blanc is deep purple-black in color. It opens with intense notes of chocolate-covered cherries, blackberry preserves, and cassis, plus suggestions of violets, star anise, chocolate box, and an exotic waft of sandalwood. Medium-bodied, the palate has a great core of black plums and cassis layers, supported by firm, grainy tannins and seamless freshness, leading to a long and spicy finish on this beguilingly beautiful wine.

Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, The Wine Independent, May 2022

We are in an entirely different world of textured tannins, and dense fruit character compared to most, clearly among the red wines of the vintage. Showing an inky character, cigar box, cassis, bluberry, crushed roses, gunsmoke and flint nose along with powerful but understated blueberry and damson fruits. The 30th anniversary with Pierre Lurton as director, and the last official year as Premier Grand Cru Classé A - both things that put this firmly in the buy camp. Biggest percentage of Cabernet Franc since 2011, and the first time to use more Cabernet Franc than Merlot in the blend. 100% new oak.

Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com, March 2024

52% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cask sample.
Deep crimson hue. Fragrant and floral with a hint of mint, the same returning on the palate. Focused and precise, the fruit juicy and the plentiful tannins finely grained. Low-key but elegant and refined. Should fill out more in bottle. (JL) 13%
Drink 2030 – 2046

James Lawther MW, JancisRobinson.com (179), May 2022
Read more tasting notes...

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.

William Kelley, Wine Advocate (260), April 2022

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.

Jane Anson, JaneAnson.com, April 2022
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.