(a blend of 56% merlot and 44% cabernet franc; 13% alcohol; 32 h/h): Bright ruby. Ripe, intensely pure black cherry, blackcurrant, floral and milk chocolate aromas. Enters silky and suave, with rich red cherry and blackcurrant flavors that give the middle palate a fruit cocktail quality. Almost more Pomerol than Saint-Emilion here, with a rich, fleshy mouth feel and highly polished tannins. Finishes very long and suave, with a pretty smoky, floral note. I also had the opportunity to taste the pure bottlings of the 1998 Cheval’s merlot and cabernet franc, and the cabernet franc was absolutely mesmerizing; the best of these lots went into the Cheval Blanc, and the wine is noticeably better than the Petit Cheval of the same year. That said, given the truly amazing quality of the cabernet franc this vintage, I am utterly convinced that having included more of it in Cheval Blanc’s final blend would have turned this into one of the estate’s five or six best wines ever. The 1998 vintage recorded temperatures close to the yearly averages throughout the growth cycle, and though not particularly hot, it was one of the drier years on record; the harvest took place from September 28 through October 6.
Robert Parker 100
“The 1998 Cheval Blanc, a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc, is deep garnet-brick in color and absolutely explodes with scents of exotic spices, incense, dried roses, cigar box and licorice, with a core of crème de cassis and dried cherries plus touches of black tea and dusty earth. Medium to full-bodied, it fills the mouth with rich, plushly textured fruit and then POW-it hits the mid-palate with an explosion of Chinese five spice and floral perfume sparks, leading to an epically long finish. This cannot fail to impress and can easily cellar for another 30 years or more.”
Anticipated maturity: 2018-2048