|Producer||Chateau Cheval Blanc|
Vinous Media (VM)
61% merlot and 39% cabernet franc): Good full ruby. Crystallized blackcurrant, licorice, cedar and menthol on the nose, complicated by cocoa and smoky minerals. Round and ripe but not thick or heavy on the palate, featuring tangy flavors of black cherry, licorice, graphite and spices. At once creamy and juicy, with good breadth and fine tannins. Over the years, I have had the unique opportunity and privilege (for which I am grateful to both Lurton and Van Leeuwen) to taste the single lots of pure cabernet franc and merlot from this and other vintages (the estate sets aside a small number of such bottles every vintage for purposes of study and analysis), and it's an amazingly instructive exercise. Though the final blend is better than the single lots, the fact that the estate's second wine, Le Petit Cheval, was 61% cabernet franc (with 2% malbec!) in 1999 and that it is a pretty amazing wine leads me to question the wisdom of having included so much merlot in the final assemblage of the 1999 Cheval Blanc. (Note that the percentages of the final blend I report are those given me by Van Leeuwen, while some other references have listed the 1999 blend at 59% merlot and 41% cabernet franc.) The vintage was a hot one, with higher than average temperatures in almost every month of the growth cycle, leading to an early harvest in mid-September (whereas the annual average is closer to September 20-25).