Chateau Cheval Blanc  1996 Front Label
Chateau Cheval Blanc  1996 Front Label

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1996

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750ML / 13% ABV
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750ML / 13% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This vintage produced superb Cabernet Franc as well as some fine lots of Merlot. In fact, Cabernet Franc makes up most of the final blend, so the wine unsurprisingly reflects that variety's characteristics to a great extent.

The deep, brilliant, ruby-red color has a brownish-red rim showing the wine's age. Although the bouquet seems rather closed at first, it opens up when swirled in the glass to reveal complex aromas of blackcurrant, fruit in brandy, vanilla, and understated oak. The nose gains in complexity and intensity over time, but the fruit always prevails. The wine starts out powerful, vinous, and elegant on the palate. This vintage has a great deal of freshness and is rich and dense on the middle palate. The tannin is luscious, but fine-grained. The fruity flavors go into quite a long aftertaste that remains fresh. The 1996 Cheval Blanc shows good concentration and fine aromatic complexity that has developed well over time. The wine has been delightful for the past several years and is now starting to show its age, although it still appears to have further potential.

Blend: 56% Cabernet Franc and 44% Merlot

Critical Acclaim

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WS 91
Wine Spectator
Medium ruby, with a garnet edge. Aromas of plum and fresh herbs, such as basil, that turn to cedar and cigar box. Full-bodied, with soft, silky tannins. Long and flavorful, with subtle chocolate, berry and light coffee aftertaste. Gorgeous.--'95/'96 Bordeaux retrospective.
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Chateau Cheval Blanc

Chateau Cheval Blanc

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Chateau Cheval Blanc, France
Chateau Cheval Blanc Aerial View of Cheval Blanc Winery Image

The present-day Cheval Blanc vineyards had vines at least as far back as the 18th century, as shown by Belleyme's map of the region dated 1764. Nearly a century later, the estate was acquired by the Fourcaud-Laussac family who owned it until 1998, when it was sold to Mr Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère.

The vineyard is in a single block, and borders on the Pomerol appellation. An outstanding terror and unusual proportions of Cabernet Franc and Merlot give this great wine an absolutely unique flavor. Chateau Cheval Blanc has had a greater number of outstanding vintages than any other classified great growth over the past century.

Another unusual characteristic of Cheval Blanc is that once it reaches its peak, it maintains it for a very long time. This admirable wine is powerful, soft, rich, round and silky. It has tremendous fruit and elegance as well as exceptional quality from year to year.

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St-Émilion Wine

Bordeaux, France

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Marked by its historic fortified village—perhaps the prettiest in all of Bordeaux, the St-Émilion appellation, along with its neighboring village of Pomerol, are leaders in quality on the Right Bank of Bordeaux. These Merlot-dominant red wines (complemented by various amounts of Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon) remain some of the most admired and collected wines of the world.

St-Émilion has the longest history in wine production in Bordeaux—longer than the Left Bank—dating back to an 8th century monk named Saint Émilion who became a hermit in one of the many limestone caves scattered throughout the area.

Today St-Émilion is made up of hundreds of independent farmers dedicated to the same thing: growing Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and tiny amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon). While always roughly the same blend, the wines of St-Émilion vary considerably depending on the soil upon which they are grown—and the soils do vary considerably throughout the region.

The chateaux with the highest classification (Premier Grand Cru Classés) are on gravel-rich soils or steep, clay-limestone hillsides. There are only four given the highest rank, called Premier Grand Cru Classés A (Chateau Cheval Blanc, Ausone, Angélus, Pavie) and 14 are Premier Grand Cru Classés B. Much of the rest of the vineyards in the appellation are on flatter land where the soils are a mix of gravel, sand and alluvial matter.

Great wines from St-Émilion will be deep in color, and might have characteristics of blackberry liqueur, black raspberry, licorice, chocolate, grilled meat, earth or truffles. They will be bold, layered and lush.

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.

SIM19553_1996 Item# 19553

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