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2012 Cheval Blanc

2012 Cheval Blanc

97 VM

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Critic Reviews

The 2012 Cheval Blanc boasts stunning power and a vertical, imposing sense of structure that is quite rare in this vintage. Dark and almost brooding in style, the Cheval is a rare 2012 that absolutely demands cellaring. Smoke, tobacco, incense and dark spices open up with time, but the 2012 is a reticent, tannic wine that is only showing the barest hints of its ultimate potential. This is a magnificent showing and one of the clear highlights of the year.

Antonio Galloni | 97 AG
A step up over the 2011, the 2012 Chateau Cheval Blanc offers a similar medium to full-bodied, elegant style yet has slightly more freshness and purity. Smoked black fruits, cassis, tobacco leaf, and sappy flower notes all emerge from this thrillingly textured, balanced, focused 2012. It opens up with time in the glass, has ripe, sweet tannins, and it’s another one of those wines that offers pleasure today yet will cruise for decades. The final blend is the usual 54% Merlot and 46% Cabernet Franc. Readers should be happy to have bottles in their cellars.

Jeb Dunnuck | 96+ JD
(Château Cheval Blanc, St-Émilion, Bordeaux, France, Red) A beautifully balanced claret with a fragrant silky texture, fine backbone and length on the palate, promising a long life. Not a ‘big’ wine but a delicious one with class. Made in the spanking new cellar (inaugurated June 2011). (Drink between 2022-2040)

Decanter | 96 DEC
Medium to deep garnet colored, the 2012 Cheval Blanc reveals lovely cassis, warm black cherries and redcurrant jelly notions with underlying hints of cedar chest, garrigue, Indian spices and damp soil. Medium to full-bodied, it possesses wonderful energy and freshness on the palate with a beautifully poised ethereal nature and long mineral-tinged finish. This elegantly crafted beauty should enter its drinking window in a couple of years and cellar gracefully for another 20+ years.

Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 95+ RP
This wine is gorgeous in all facets, offering a simultaneously loamy and creamy mouthfeel, seamless layers of red and black currant, cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit, and a long, tobacco-fueled finish that features alluring hints of black tea and incense. The fruit and terroir shine in this broad, deep and defined style. Best from 2018 through 2030. 7,083 cases made.

Wine Spectator | 95 WS
(Château Cheval Blanc) The grand vin here this year is comprised of a blend of fifty-four percent merlot and forty-six percent cabernet franc and was produced from yields of thirty-one hectoliters per hectare. It is a great Cheval Blanc in the making, soaring from the glass in a classic blend of dark berries, mulberries, cigar smoke, espresso, lovely, cabernet franc-derived herb tones, menthol and a stylish base of nutty new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and seamless, with a youthful personality, superb focus and balance, a fair bit of tannin and outstanding length and grip on the nascently complex and very, very promising finish. There was a pretty wide variety of samples of this wine on display at the château on the damp morning in early April when the estate was playing open house to visiting journalists (I overheard Michel Bettane comment that “every single bottle is different”), and one had to hunt around a bit to find a bottle that was not totally shut down, but the samples that were open for inspection clearly indicated that this will be a great, great vintage of Cheval Blanc. (Drink between 2025-2075).

John Gilman | 95+ JG
With a wonderful 45% blending of fragrant Cabernet Franc, this is a sumptuous, perfumed wine. It’s rich with a velvet texture that hides the dark tannins while bringing out the rich plum flavors. The dense texture is balanced by some fresh acidity and a fruity aftertaste. Drink this deceptively approachable wine from 2024.

Wine Enthusiast | 95 WE
A ripe and fleshy St.-Emilion with an excellent interplay of forest berry fruit, bitter chocolate and a whiff of cinnamon and allspice. Lovely, creamy richness on the mid-palate, but also a hint of warmth from alcohol. The supple tannins make for a very smooth finish, but it’s not so complex there. Drink or hold. Château Quintus vertical tasting. SP.

James Suckling | 93 JS

Wine Details for 2012 Cheval Blanc

Type of Wine Bordeaux Red : Picture in your mind a combination of cedar, lead pencil, blackcurrant, plum and mineral aromatics, and texture that caresses your palate like a playful lover. The experience is thrilling from the first whiff to the final seconds of a tannic, generous finish - that is what you'll get from a Bordeaux Red
Varietal Red Bordeaux Blend : The inhabitants of the Bordeaux region of France have been cultivating wine-grapes for thousands of years. Ancient Roman ruins litter the vineyards from Saint Emilion to Graves where the art of blending Bordeaux varietals has been practiced and perfected over a very long history. Bordeaux’s climate, terroir and soils, though varied, provide the optimal growing conditions for the red grape varietals planted in the region.

Rarely listed on the labels as “blend,” the red wines of Bordeaux are perhaps the most artfully designed and celebrated in the world. The calculated art of blending the native Bordeaux varietals is impressively accomplished in the most famous winegrowing region in the world. The phrase Bordeaux Blend which seems to have been coined by British wine merchants in the 19th Century relates as much to wines made from the blend as to the grape variety combination itself.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and occasionally Carmenere are the lead characters in the creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. Each plays a part in their own fashion and implemented in various combinations and percentages in each appellation within Bordeaux. Red Bordeaux Blends are majorly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, roughly making up 90% of all Bordeaux Blends. Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec (occasionally Carmenere) are also important components and vital to the production of the region’s red wines.

For simplicity, the winegrowing region of Bordeaux can be divided into three main appellations producing Red Bordeaux Blends; the Left Bank (Medoc), Right Bank and Pessac-Leognan (Graves). The Left Bank has a terroir comprised of a wide variety of gravel, stones, sand, limestone and clay soils on a natural terrain of gentle slopes. This sets the stage perfectly for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon, which is the dominant grape of the Left Bank. For example, Chateau Lafite (Paulliac) is composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Right Bank is dominated by clay and limestone with sand and gravel, but the clay in the Right Bank is distinctly its own and adds to the health, growth and vitality of the vines of the varietals grown here. Right Bank wines are typically 80% Merlot-based, which are often denser, richer and mature earlier than those of the Left Bank (with exceptions – Petrus for example). Merlot is a vital component to Pomerol winegrowing and making. Cabernet Franc also plays a major role in the Right Bank, most notably, in Saint Emilion, where the infamous vineyards of Chateau Ausone and Chateau Cheval Blanc are planted to 55% and 52% Cabernet Franc, respectively. Chateaux that produce wines with a majority of Cabernet Franc are considered “old school” producers, but have perfected the use of Cabernet Franc, which was originally used as a blending grape.

Pessac-Leognan (Graves) enjoys a temperate climate, natural hygrometry influenced by the ocean, and has a terroir composed of gravelly soil over a clay subsoil on sloping, hilly terrain. Natural drainage due to the hilly terrain as well as the gravelly soil structure are perfectly attuned to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape vine, which prospers under these conditions. Pessac reaps the benefits of having the terroir of both the Left and Right Bank as it contains gravel and clay. The clay sub-soil allows the growth and success of Merlot, as well as Cabernet Franc. It is home to the only First Growth not in the Medoc. The 50-hectare vineyard of Haut Brion is planted to 45.4% Merlot, 43.9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9.7% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

The percentage of Petit Verdot and Malbec may be lesser in quantity, but not in quality. They are vital to the region’s creation of Red Bordeaux Blends. The combination of Bordeaux varietals is legendary in the region, around the world and has influenced winegrowers worldwide to plant and vinify wines which resemble those of Red Bordeaux Blends.

Country France : Wine is the lifeblood that courses through the country of France, pulsing with vigorous pride and determination. Viticulture is not just a hobby or an occupation in France; it is a passion, a cherished tradition that has been passed down through generations of wine stained hands. Winemaking is a beloved art that has been ingrained in the culture, an aptitude instilled in sons by fathers and the hallmark for which France’s reputation was built, allowing it to be renowned as, arguably, the most important wine producing country in the world.



For centuries, France has been producing wines of superior quality and in much greater quantity than any other country in the world. It boasts some of the most impressive wine regions, coveted vineyards and prestigious wines on earth. The regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Sauternes and Champagne have become the benchmark, for which others aspire to become. Legendary producers such as Chateaux Margaux, Domaine De La Romanee Conti, Chapoutier, d’Yquem and Dom Perignon are idolized world-wide.



France has stamped its name on nearly every style of wine, from the nectar-like sweet Sauternes to hedonistic Chateauneuf Du Papes classic Bordeaux and Burgundy, to its sparkling dominance in Champagne. Many of the most infamous grape varietals in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay originated in France and are not only beloved, but utilized in the creation of some of the greatest wines on earth. French wine production commands the attention of the wine market year after year. With over 860,000 hectares under vine, and numbers close to 50 million hectoliters of wine produced annually, France dominates the market and sets the standard for not only product quality, but also quantity.



France’s many contributions to the world of wine have been absolutely indispensable. The country is the originator of the term “Premier Cru,” coined the term Terroir (a French term so complex there is no literal translation) and has laid the blueprint for a structured appellation system, which others have implemented in their own countries. French vineyard techniques and winemaking practices are mimicked world-wide. California vintners have been replicating Rhone style wines for decades, South America has adopted the French varietal of Malbec and countries around the world are imitating Burgundian styled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.



With vast diversity in terroir, France is home to some of the most hospitable winegrowing locations on earth. The combination of topography, geology, climate, rainfall and even the amount of sunlight combined with the long historical tradition of winegrowing and making, has allowed the vintners of France to not only hone their skills, but learn from nature to create a product that like the world in which it resides… is very much alive.


Region Bordeaux : Even among the greatest and most reputable wine regions on the planet, Bordeaux stands above the rest. The winemakers of this region have a single-minded dedication to the fine art of viticulture and their efforts never fail to show. If you consider yourself a fine wine enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to visit Bordeaux - life changing. Whether you wish to drink some inspirational and gripping wine as soon as possible, or you want to add some masterpieces to your collection, no region on Earth is a more obvious choice.

The noble and beautiful Garonne and Dordogne rivers surge through southwestern France, enriching the soil in a way very few other places can boast. The limestone-based earth is rich in calcium, and the almost oceanic climate conditions give the staple Bordeaux grape varietals vigor and flavor like nowhere else. For their illustrious reds, Bordeaux winemakers rely on a proven combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Meanwhile, a sip of their excellent white wine hints at the use of Semillon, Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc.Each of these varietals carries a unique identity, making every quality wine a character piece to rival Citizen Kane. It can be incredibly hard to choose only a few wines to collect for your cellar!
Subregion Right Bank
Appellation Saint Emilion

Overview

Producer Chateau Cheval Blanc

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