The long, colorful, Bordeaux wine history of Cheval Blanc, which is translated into white horse, can be traced back to 1832. That is the year when the Ducasse family purchased land from the much larger Figeac estate. At that time, Figeac was owned by Countess Félicité de Carle-Trajet. The Countess sold portions of her estate to numerous buyers. That explains why so many chateaux include the word Figeac as part of their name.
In 1838, the Ducasse family purchased more land in St. Emilion. This increased the size of what would turn into Cheval Blanc. In 1852, when Mille Henriette Ducasse married Jean Laussac-Fourcaud, she came with a dowry that included the recently recently acquired Bordeaux wine vineyards. The land featured 2 of the 5 gravel mounds running through Cheval Blanc and Figeac. This was an amazing dowry! The family Laussac-Fourcaud further augmented the Bordeaux wine estate with additional purchases. By 1871, they had finally accumulated 41 hectares. This is the same size of the vineyards owned by Cheval Blanc today.
Around 1860, when the chateau was being built, extensive work was taking place in the vineyards as well. The most modern development at the time was the network of drains placed in the fields. Cheval Blanc might have been the first estate in the Right Bank to install such a system. In the burgeoning years of the property, they sold their wine under the Figeac label. Bordeaux wine history was made when that arrangement came to an end. Cheval Blanc began winning medals for their wine. Those medals are pictured on the labels today. In 1893, when Jean Laussac-Fourcaus passed away, his son Albert began managing the property. The estate remained in the family. His children took over managing the estate after he died.
In 1998 Cheval Blanc was purchased by Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère. They asked Pierre Lurton to manage the property for them. In 2009, LVMH purchased the shares owned by Bernard Arnault.
While 2000 was a perfect Bordeaux wine vintage for Cheval Blanc, for the remainder the decade, Cheval Blanc produced good, but never amazing wines. For Cheval Blanc, they missed the mark in 2005. With 2009, they produced a candidate for wine of the vintage.
In 2010, with the help of famed architect Christian de Portzamparc, the chateau began a major construction project. They are building new winery, barrel cellars, vinification rooms, tasting area and work will be done with the landscaped gardens.
‘[We] will not begin construction until 2010 or 2011. But we know that it will be very contemporary, and quite unlike anything else in Saint Emilion today,’ Lurton told decanter.com.
He insisted the new buildings would be ‘fully integrated into the surrounding landscape’. The finished project is due to be open for wine tourists. Being located on the Pomerol border is part of the reason for the voluptuous quality of Cheval Blanc. In fact close to 30% of their terroir resembles that of the top Pomerol estates. The terroir of Chateau Cheval Blanc consists of 3 different soils. The vineyards of Cheval Blanc are planted deep layers of gravel, sandy clay over compact blue clay and sndy clay with iron deposits. Those three unique soils allow the 91.4 acre Bordeaux wine vineyard to express a unique style of wine.
The Bordeaux wine vineyards are planted with 58% Cabernet Franc and 42% Merlot. The terroir and the unique plantings with so much cabernet franc help to produce one of the most opulent, majestic wines in the world.
The beauty of Cheval Blanc is the complex, powerful perfume paired with textures that can feel as soft as polished silk and velvet. The wine feels incredibly rich. Yet it’s never heavy. Cheval Blanc can be enjoyed young. However, it is one of the longest lived Bordeaux wines being produced. As you can see from my notes, the legendary 1921 is still going strong at close to 90 years age! I hope I show that well when I’m 90.