Robert Parker 90
Tasted in Southwold, the Cheval Blanc 1988 is what you might call a “solid” Saint Emilion, one that has plateaued in recent years. The nose is quite backward considering its age and demands encouragement, gradually unfurling to reveal dark berries, sage, mint and cigar box aromas that lean towards the Left Bank. The palate is medium-bodied with quite rigid tannins. Fortunately there is sufficient fruit to back it up and then it eases back towards a languid, mushroom-tinged finish. Very fine. Tasted February 2014.
(40 h/h; 12.5% alcohol): Bright red. Very pure floral nose with enticing aromas of redcurrant, violet, minerals, licorice, lead pencil and coffee: very cabernet franc! Then linear, pure and juicy, with pristine flavors of red berries, dark plum, minerals and coffee. This midweight finishes clean and smoothly tannic, offering amazing balance and an impression of seamlessness on the long, very floral finish. As much as I like its pure aromas and flavors, I find this Cheval Blanc lacks a little density for an even higher score. This was an overall dry and cool year, with some rain present only in the first part of the year, which caused some mildew pressure. The dry conditions started at the end of July and never really let up; from July to September, there was less than two inches of rain. Flowering was late, taking place on June 10, and veraison on August 20. Harvested during the first ten days of October.