Chateau Cheval Blanc arguably holds pole position in Saint-Emilion. Sited in the northwest of the appellation, the property was formerly part of the Figeac estate. Purchased by the Ducasse family in 1832, the size of the property was increased with adjacent vineyards and further developed with plantings of Cabernet Franc. One of the greatest legacies left by the Ducasse family is the drainage system constructed to prevent flooding in the vineyards, and was the first of its kind in Saint-Emilion.
Spread over 40 hectares today, the property boasts a variety of soil types that encompass gravel, clay, and sand, all of which lie above a stratum of impermeable sedimentary rock. The distinctive soil types allow Cheval Blanc to grow an unusual composition of grapes — Cabernet Franc makes up more than half of the plantings, followed by Merlot and small parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
The wine — which spends four weeks in fermentation and maceration, followed by 18 months of maturation in new oak barrels — is singular in its type and expression, and typically requires a decade of bottle ageing before its characteristic complexity and charm begin to unravel. In fact, the best vintages are usually around 50 years of age or more.
The Chateau Cheval Blanc Vertical Collection comprises one bottle of each vintage from 1945 to 2010, except for the years 1956, 1963, 1965, and 1991 when vintages were not produced. Particularly noteworthy is the 1947 vintage, regarded by critics and connoisseurs as one of the most legendary wines of the 20th century.