Formerly known as vin de Figeac, this wine was first sold under the name Cheval Blanc in 1852. The first gold medal won by Cheval Blanc came at the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris and that distinction appears on the label.
Each vineyard plot is vinified separately. At the start of fermentation, the juice is gently pumped over three times daily. As fermentation proceeds, pump-over frequency decreases and is eventually stopped when the desired level of extraction has been reached.
The young wine is aged 16 to 18 months in new French oak barrels. Six to seven different coopers are used to ensure complexity and harmony. During this period, the wine is racked by hand five to seven times. Blending takes place after the first three months.
Chateau Cheval Blanc is a Premier Grand Cru Classe “A” estate located near Pomerol, but within the commune of Saint-Emilion. Its 39 hectares are divided into forty-five plots. While most of the appellation's other famous estates have limestone soil, Cheval Blanc's soil is alluvial, with roughly equal proportions of gravel and clay.
The vineyard has an original combination of grape varieties: 49% Cabernet Franc, 47% Merlot, and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon. Each plot has its own specific profile and, to a certain extent, are treated like separate vineyards because of differences in the age of the vines, grape variety, soil type, surface area, type of rootstock, etc. The combination of these many facets accounts for Cheval Blanc’s great complexity.
Archives show that vines have been grown at Cheval Blanc at least as far back as the 15th century, but the most prestigious part of Cheval Blanc's history can be dated from 1832 when the core plot of the present-day estate was purchased by Jean-Jacques Ducasse, President of the Libourne Trade Tribunal. Over the next twenty years, the purchase of plots belonging to Chateau Figeac led to the vineyard as we know it today.
The impressive 6,000 square-meter cellar adjacent to the chateau, designed by Christian de Portzamparc and inaugurated in June 2011, houses a state-of-the-art winemaking facility and features two enormous waves of white concrete that rise magnificently out of the ground. There is a garden of wild grasses atop an artificial hill, whose gracious curves are overlooked by the chateau. The wine cellar holds fifty-two concrete vats in six rows.