About Château Cheval Blanc

By Lisa Rowlands

Château Cheval Blanc’s unique terroir provides the estate with ‘the best of both worlds’. Whilst typically Saint-Émilion châteaux have either gravelly or clay soils, this estate has both in equal proportion and the diversity of composition, together with the range in age of the vines and the type of rootstock, calls for the vineyard to be divided into forty-five individual parcels, each one unique from the next.

The region, the appellation and the estate have a long history of viticultural activity, however the key date regarding the future direction - and subsequent success - of Château Cheval Blanc was perhaps in 1832, when the estate was acquired by Jean-Jacques Ducasse. Ducasse added to the area with land purchases from Château Figeac over the next twenty years, and wine was first produced and sold under the Cheval Blanc name in 1852. Somewhat fortuitously, Henriette - daughter of Jean-Jacques married a wine merchant - Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, and the couple’s replanting of the estate in the 1860s / 1870s, proved a stroke of genius - the then atypical mix of Cabernet Franc and Merlot remains almost the same one hundred and fifty years later.

The vineyard is composed of 52% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and whilst the exact percentages of the resultant wine varies with vintage, Cabernet Franc - so often seen as the insurance variety - has been a major grape component in all of the most celebrated vintages. The famed ‘1947’ - widely regarded as Cheval Blanc’s best of the twentieth century and referenced in the 2007 Pixar film ‘Ratatouille’, is an equal split of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and the variety (Cabernet Franc) is the dominant grape in many other acclaimed vintages.