Robert Parker 98
The 1990 Cheval Blanc is fast becoming my favorite modern-day vintage of this Saint Emilion estate and perhaps the 1990 is now exiting the slip-steam of the feted 1982. This is unequivocally a brilliant wine. The nose holds nothing back, a line of senses all doing the conga towards your olfactory senses: macerated dark cherries, exotic kirsch-like aromas, leather, mahogany bureau, touches of crème de cassis and herbs all vie for attention. The palate is full-bodied and cloaked in a silky, velvety texture that leaves you a little ga-ga. There is so much fruit ram-packed into the bravura of a finish. Moreover, there’s just so much joie-de-vivre and decadence in this wine, but it never seems overpowering or ostentatious. This bottle came from perfect provenance, as it was served blind by winemaker Pierre Lurton at a private dinner hosted by a mutual friend in Bordeaux. Tasted March 2016.
Anticipated maturity: 2016-2045
(13.6% alcohol; 40 h/h): Bright red. Very complex, deep nose of blackcurrant, red cherry, coffee, tar, tobacco leaf and flowers. Then smooth, rich and dense, with a creamy texture and lively acidity nicely extending the flavors of dark berries, plum, mocha, soy sauce, leather and Oriental spices. A ripely tannic wine with a rich, exotic mouth feel, this comes across as a more opulent style of Cheval Blanc. Finishes extremely long and complex, with a smoky chocolatey nuance and a sweet coconut note. This outstanding and complex wine will have you going back to the glass again and again. A warm and dry year, the 1990 vintage was slightly hotter than 1989 (some cuvees of merlot clocked in at over 14% alcohol), with 11 days over 35Â°C between July and August. From July to September there was 27% more sunlight than average and it was very dry throughout. It was also a very precocious year, with flowering occurring around May 25, veraison (the color change of the berries) on August 12, and harvest between September 11 and 25. (Incidentally, the chateau does not have records of the final blends of their vintages prior to the early 1990s.
Extremely rich and smooth, but also notably appetising. This wine has been beautiful all its life. Dark and ‘minerally’ with a whiff of cordite. Wonderful combination of flattering richness and sweetness with freshness.
Anticipated maturity: 2010-2035