In addition to the château-direct consignment from Montrose, our upcoming Bordeaux Auction features a pristine consignment direct from the cellars of Château Cheval Blanc (lots 1-32). In honor of their consignment, we invite you to take a further look at the traditions and techniques that have made this estate one of Bordeaux’s most famous.
Perched on the border of St.-Emilion and Pomerol, Cheval Blanc produces one of the finest, most distinctive wines in Bordeaux. The estate was founded upon the idea of marrying the traditional varietal of St-Emilion, Merlot, with Cabernet Franc, and it has undeniably proved the merit of that idea. In 1954, it was one of only two properties awarded the supreme distinction of Premier Grand Cru Classé A. Partners Bernard Arnault and Baron Frère purchased the already legendary Château in 1998, and have since worked to perpetuate its tradition while bringing an elegant touch of modernity to the estate. They retained current, renowned Director Pierre Lurton, who has held his position at Cheval Blanc since 1991 (and who also serves as CEO at Château d’Yquem, Cheval des Andes, La Tour du Pin, and Château Marjosse).
Cheval Blanc’s vineyards are composed of a single stretch of vines that have remained virtually unchanged since 1871. These aged vines grow within Cheval’s three distinctive terroirs—40% deep gravel, 40% gravel over clay subsoil, and 20% sand atop clay. Together, this incredibly unique mélange of gravel, clay and sand perfectly nurture Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and help give the wine its signature complexity.
Pierre Lurton runs Cheval Blanc with the conviction that wine is made primarily in the vineyard. With four times more permanent staff working among the vines than in the winery, Lurton focuses on improving the quality of the estate’s wine through ecologically mindful viticulture. Under his leadership, Cheval Blanc implements four separate, careful ploughing operations during the vegetation cycle, has absolutely prohibited the use of herbicides, and has planted hedges with the goal of stimulating animal biodiversity among the vines. Yields are limited to an output of 25 to 40 hl/ha through a combination of high vine density and severe pruning. Rather than waiting for completely uniform phenolic ripeness, Lurton’s team picks plots individually as they see fit, selecting grapes of slightly different levels of maturity in order to give the wine further complexity. Lurton then uses a classical, low-tech approach in the cellar to highlight the characteristics of each vintage. The estate’s sleek new facilities (completed in 2011) allow Lurton to vinify each of Cheval’s 44 plots separately and then carefully blend them as he deems fit.
The wines of Cheval Blanc are often unlike any others in Bordeaux. Cabernet Franc comprises half of the blend–almost unheard of among other major châteaux. Yet the estate masterfully demonstrates the full potential of the grape. The varietal adds aromatic complexity, elegance, length, and beautifully mellowed tannins to Merlot’s silky texture and roundness. As wine write Neal Martin says, “It is neither Saint Emilion nor Pomerol, it is simply Cheval-Blanc and therefore potentially one of the best wines in the world.” Neal Martin, Château Cheval Blanc, November 2006, eRobertParker.com