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FICOFI: Cheval Blanc & d’Yquem

July 12, 2017

FICOFI ended the first half of this year on a high with the most delectable pairing of Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem at the Meritus Mandarin, Singapore, on 06 June 2017, both establishments now under the astute management of M. Pierre Lurton. Looking every bit the dapper ambassador as he mixed around easily with all the members, Pierre truly knows how to position his estates in the best light. Speaking in his considerably thick and inimitable French accent, Pierre still remembers our visit to Cheval Blanc last September, his face lighting up with delight when I showed him (pictured with Dr Ngoi) on my blog post. But when it’s time for him to take the stage, he may turn a little reticent, preferring instead to let the wines speak for themselves since no one really needs any introduction to these two estates. Having taken over the running of Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem since 1998 and 2004, respectively, Pierre is rightly proud to be leading the best estates of Saint Emilion and Sauternes, for he certainly appears very pleased whenever one discusses with him about the superb experiences we’ve had with the wines of both estates.


For this event, Pierre has been very generous in treating us to no less than five vintages of Cheval Blanc (no second wine!) along with the less common Y d’Yquem on top of two vintages of d’Yquem (there was an undeclared 2014 lurking around which I missed). The unique quality of Cheval Blanc is best experienced when the wine has had time to hit full maturity, for it really does take a very long time for cabernet franc to reveal its true potential, when the wine will be transformed into a fabulous kaleidoscope of red fruits, utterly mesmerizing in its ability to present lasting power, elegance, detail and intensity of flavours so seamlessly. On this occasion, however, though the wines were showing well with great potential, I’m afraid we didn’t quite achieve that level of nirvana as the vintages were way too young while the 1988, good as it was, isn’t the best that I’ve had from Cheval Blanc. But one must count one’s blessings and not be choosy; I’m always happy to drink anything from Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem.


1998 Dom Perignon P2. Dense aromas of delicate pomelo, white flowers and clear citrus, displaying good concentration and subtle intensity, noticeably more gentle and placid towards the back palate, understated in finish with some almonds and attractive sweetness.

2015 Y d’Yquem. Dry with dominant aromas of lychees, barley, raw nutmeg and dry apricot, ample in concentration of complex citrus, yellow fruits and creme de la crème, evolving over time towards a rich brilliance. Excellent stuff. First produced in 1959, this dry white of Chateau d’Yquem comprises 60% sauvignon blanc that is slightly botrytised.


2006 Ch Cheval Blanc, poured from magnum. This wine exudes a powerful glow of red cherries allied with lifted tones of dark plums and bright mocha that led to a great concentration of glorious fruit, seamless with lovely intensity and sublime acidity amidst traces of vanilla, displaying excellent linearity throughout its wonderful length. Still youthful, but should be quite superb when ready.

2005 Ch Cheval Blanc. Closed with barely a hint of dark fruits and raspberries though wide open on the palate, layered with excellent concentration of redcurrants and dark berries, well-integrated with great precision and detail yet highly understated, far from any secondary development. Will be outstanding but likely to evolve at a glacial pace. Truly one to cellar for the next generation.

2009 Ch Cheval Blanc. This stellar vintage has endowed this wine with a great abundance of raspberries and blueberries with traces of enamel on the nose, obviously still tight on the palate though the cabernet franc is more evident here than in the preceding two wines as it glowed brighter over time with an emerging tone of red fruits and paraffin from its rich layers and depth, becoming more feminine, finishing with ferrous elements. Superb but, again, another one for the long long haul.


2004 Ch Cheval Blanc, poured from magnum. This wine opens with darker tones of blueberries and raspberries, striking an immediate classic poise in its medium-bodied proposition, displaying attractive subtlety and openness with an excellent streak of lively fruit, very lovely in balance, growing more seductive and exuberant on the nose as dinner wore on. Drinking very well now, something not unexpected of this classic vintage. The best of tonight’s line-up at this point of time, in my humble opinion. Very enjoyable.

1988 Ch Cheval Blanc, poured from jeroboam. Well evolved in color, this wine exudes a very lovely nose, awashed in delicious floral fragrances with sweet incense and ash, rather high-toned on the palate where red fruits, camphor and minerals still hold firm with seamless tannins amidst traces of port-like character, finishing a tad short. Excellent, but still a notch below the Cheval Blanc of 1983, 1982 and 1975.

2007 Ch d’Yquem. From a vintage considered to be on par with 2001, this Sauternes is still primal, richly layered with nectarine, apricot and honeysuckle that exuded gorgeous intensity matched with sublime acidity, perfectly balanced and seamless but going absolutely nowhere. Keep for your next generation.


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