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Senior editor James Suckling joined Wine Spectator in 1981 and retired in 2010. As European bureau chief, he was based in Tuscany and tasted the wines of Italy, Bordeaux and Port.
James Suckling

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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