Bordeaux's White Horse, More Than a Decade Later

Château Cheval-Blanc St.-Emilion 1995
James Suckling
Posted: March 23, 2009

The other night, I went to one of my favorite local restaurants in Tuscany with some friends for what I think is one of the best steaks in town. Osteria dell'Acquolina is owned by the friendly Paolo Tizzanini, and his wife does the cooking. My group of four ordered a bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Florentine steak, which is essentially a giant porterhouse that is thrown on a wood-burning grill.

I began to open the bottles that I brought for dinner, which included a Bibi Graetz Toscana Testamatta 2005 and Fattoria Petrolo Toscana Galatrona 2001, and I noticed that Patrizio Bertelli, the CEO of Prada, was a few tables down. I know him well enough to know that he loves both wines. So, I went over and poured him a glass of the Testamatta.

Luckily for me, he wanted to return the favor with what he had brought for dinner. It was the 1995 Cheval-Blanc. I think it was more than a fair trade! The Bordeaux was just starting to drink beautifully, with intense aromas of plum, cherry and milk chocolate. It was medium- to full-bodied, with sweet, silky tannins and a long, long finish. I loved the subtlety and length of this beautiful claret. It had such refined sweet fruit on the finish. 93 points, non-blind, in line with what I gave it on release and in a recent retrospective tasting.

I have noticed that many of the top 1995 Bordeaux are finally beginning to drink well after years of being tight, closed and even hard. It might be time to take a look at them if you have them in your cellar. The Cheval was a perfect example of this. And I was grateful to Patrizio for sharing!

Château Cheval-Blanc St.-Emilion 1995 (94, $120 on release)

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