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FICOFI: Chateau Cheval Blanc 2000-2009 & Chateau d’Yquem 2007, 2013

November 29, 2018

Pierre Lurton dropped in to Singapore again on 06 November 2018 at the Four Seasons to grace a FICOFI event featuring the estates under his management, Chateau Cheval Blanc and Chateau d’Yquem. Ever the consummate promoter, Pierre waltzed about easily amongst members and guests whilst holding sway whenever he spoke about the wines. It’s always a privilege at such events to be amongst the first persons in the world to get to taste the latest vintage of Y d’Yquem. The line-up of Cheval Blanc, on the other hand, was way too young. Having experienced the full potential of cabernet franc viz. a 1975 Ch Cheval Blanc at the chateau itself and then again from a double magnum on another occasion, I maintain that Cheval Blanc should only be popped after 20 years, at the very least. In its youth, Cheval Blanc tends to be clouded by the darker fruit and weight of merlot, obfuscating the purity of cabernet franc. Even if some of the more classically structured vintages appear to be approachable, they lack true character that can only emerge with the passage of time. Nevertheless, those of us who cannot afford to drink Cheval Blanc or d’Yquem on a daily basis must remain grateful for whatever opportunity that come our way. And so merci beaucoup Pierre and to FICOFI for the organisation (the food that evening was truly outstanding).

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Pierre Lurton

2000 Dom Perignon Second Plenitude. Closed with only just some gentle yeasty tones. Took a long time to develop some sublime acidity and citrus fruit, subtle with taut intensity, finishing with some minerally glare amidst pomelo and bitter lemon. Didn’t really quite got off the ground in spite of persistent coaxing. The 1998 P2 is much preferable.

2016 Y d’Yquem. The unique dry white from Ch d’Yquem made since 1959, usually picked just before d’Yquem itself, comprising a blend of 80% sauvignon blanc with 20% semillon, slightly botrytised. Lightly coloured. Open clear grassy elements imbued with fresh early morning dew on the nose, developing further notes of yellow citrus, white peaches and dried apricots on the palate with a smooth deep gentle glow. Highly detailed and perfumed, continuing to evolve in the glass with overtones of raw nutmeg and cool climate fruit. Only 10,000 bottles. Excellent.

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2009 Ch Cheval Blanc. Deep purple, exuding dense aromas of dark cherries, black fruits and dark currants with a great sense of depth. Surprisingly deft and silky smooth on the palate where traces of licorice and enamel are still evident, finishing with good length but this wine has hardly evolved. Not ready.

2006 Ch Cheval Blanc. Dark crimson. More developed on the nose, displaying a lovely glow with a broad open expanse of dark red plums that imparted great concentration and fabulous intensity of fruit with  detailed finely-grained tannins amidst deeper tones of soy yet maintaining a lovely transparency in texture, becoming more and more approachable over time. However, knowing how wonderful Cheval Blanc can be given enough bottle age, the 2006 is far from ready although it is likely to reach its drinking window earlier than the 2009.

2004 Cheval Blanc. Poured from magnum. This wine opens with gentle red fruits, dark currants and earthy tones tinged with truffles, more open and lighter than the preceding reds. Medium-bodied, rounded and fleshy, classically structured with good definition and linearity, finishing with gentle intensity, just missing the opulence from the best years. Drinking quite well but I’d let it rest another 3-5 years.

2000 Ch Cheval Blanc. Dark crimson. There’s some early evolution and complexity on the nose, dominated by earthy tones, ripe dark berries, black fruits and soy. Highly supple, fleshy and lithe on the open palate characterised by a full plummy tone with lovely secondary nuances and good complexity, showing great transparency and balance. Developing very well but still youthful, far from its full potential.

2013 Ch d’Yquem. Lovely luminosity. Lifted in nectarine and honey. Luscious and deeply layered with dense apricots and treacle. Sweeter than usual but offset by excellent acidity, achieving great balance. Just a little stern at its lengthy finish. Excellent.

2007 Ch d’Yquem. Brilliant deep luminous molten gold. Rich complex bouquet of dense petroleum with aromas of steamed rice. Luscious, covered in sheer luxurious sheen of sublime acidity with bottomless layers of apricot and exotic tropical fruit, finishing with a rich burnished tone throughout its glorious length. My second tasting in six months, both from FICOFI, but this is even more impressive. Absolutely outstanding.

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