|Chateau Cheval Blanc 1947
"The Greatest Wine Ever Made"
Château Cheval Blanc 1947 occupies a unique place in the pantheon of Bordeaux - it's arguably the single most famous wine produced in
the last century in the region, and many critics and connoisseurs have rated it if not the "best" (a meaningless concept at this level), certainly
as the most remarkable.
Michael Broadbent, the renowned British expert, writes in his book "Vintage Wine":
Unquestionably one of the greatest wines of all time...incredibly rich, fat, ripe...mammoth concentration and sweetness...huge, soft, complete,
rounded, fabulous, concentration.
The French wine writer Michael Dovaz says:
The invulnerable 1947 Cheval Blanc defies the laws of modern oenology. It resembles no other wine, though it comes closest to vintage port.
Generosity, suppleness, power, licorice, cedar, plum, velvety tannins, an unequalled smoothness, and an endless finale.
The editor of European Fine Wine Magazine, Pekka Nuikki writes:
Incredibly pronounced chocolaty, leathery nose, resembling port wine. Rich and ripe with great extract. The amount of almost overripe fruit
was so appealing that it was hard to resist and not drink the whole bottle right away. A very gentle and soft wine, almost feminine in character.
At the same time so powerful and masculine. It has everything a wine can offer in such a historical and exclusive package that it is challenging
to find anything as stunning as it!...And the celebrated aftertaste. We can still sense it after two long days and nights. A perfect out-of-this-world
The doyenne of British wine journalists, Jancis Robinson, describes it as follows:
Still bright crimson. Tingling with life and excitement. Rich but reverberating - like celestial sweet Earl Grey tea. Floral, lovely and so FRESH!
This wine floats across the palate. There’s the most amazing transparency to it – it’s not heavy yet it makes an extraordinary impression. Then
the flavours develop on the finish in a peacock’s tail of complexity. I honestly don’t expect ever to taste a wine better than this.
And the hyper-influential US critic Robert Parker says:
The 1947 Cheval Blanc exhibits such a thick texture it could double as motor oil. The huge nose of fruitcake, chocolate, leather, coffee, and
Asian spices is mind-boggling. The unctuous texture and richness of sweet fruit are amazing. Consider the fact that this wine is, technically,
appallingly deficient in acidity and excessively high in alcohol. Moreover, its volatile acidity levels would be considered intolerable by modern
day oenologists. Yet how can they explain that after 47 years the wine is still remarkably fresh, phenomenally concentrated, and profoundly
complex? It has to make you wonder about the direction of modern day winemaking.
We are always buyers for great wines from great vintages, exceptional vintage spirits (especially 19th century cognac), fine old Madeira, Tokaji
Essencia, and other rarities. If you have something to sell, please send us photos and a clear description. We will, by arrangement, travel
anywhere in the UK or Europe to view important collections or cellars.
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Such is this wine's extraordinary reputation that in recent decades it has consistently fetched the highest price of any comparable Bordeaux.
In July 2007 Sotheby's sold a case of 12 for $146,429, and most recently a single bottle fetched in excess of $24000 on auction in Hong Kong.
Cheval Blanc consists of a single plot of land of 37 hectares, just east of the town of St Emilion. The soil is gravel, and is planted with one
third Merlot and two thirds Cabernet France, a proportion not found elsewhere in the region. It is the youngest of the Premier Crus - the estate
was founded as recently as 1854, and remained in the family of the original owners until 1998.
The 1947 vintage was characterized by near perfect weather with very little rain and exceptionally warm conditions from April right through
October, ie throughout the growing and ripening seasons. The unusual heat during harvesting (in excess of 35C), resulting in the grape
berries reaching the fermentation vats very warm, often a recipe for disaster due to resulting overactive fermentation. But while these
problems manifested themselves elsewhere, at Cheval Blanc everything proceeded smoothly, without problems, possibly due to the cooling
effects of the concrete fermentation vats used, and experience developed handling the 1945 vintage, which had been similarly hot. The
grapes were healthy, sweet and rich, and all the musts exceeded an alcohol content of 14% (it was very rare in this era to make a wine of
more than 13%).
Pierre Lurton, who manages the estate on behalf of its owners describes the 1947 as “an accident of nature”. “There is a lot of volatile acidity
which enhances the aromas, with some residual sugar which gives a lot of sweetness and fatness.”
Lurton goes on “1947, 1948, 1949 and 1959 are a fantastic series of vintages for Cheval Blanc, and all the first growths. (The 1947) is still
very young. The wine is so concentrated, elegant and fine. The tannin is velvety. The wine had a long, long finish and there is no dryness.”
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