Château Cheval Blanc
Wander around the streets of St Emilion, and the slopes of the plateau on which it sits, and it won’t be long before you have checked off many of the châteaux on your ‘to do’ list. The majority of the premier grand cru classé estates are located here, the limestone plateau and clay-limestone slopes ideal for Merlot, the wines usually spiced up with more than a little Cabernet Franc which adores this limestone terroir. There is one estate, however, that will remain absent from your list. Well, actually, there are quite a few estates that you won’t find here, but one or two are considerably more notable than the others. And one of the most glaring absentees is Château Cheval Blanc.
That this château is nowhere to be found is down to a peculiarity of the St Emilion appellation. This is a huge vine-growing region, covering several thousand hectares, and more disconcertingly a variety of terroirs; not just the clay and limestone on and around the plateau, but also at least two types of sand as well as gravel, the latter in the far north-western corner of the appellation. This streak of gravelly soils is contiguous with the gravels of Pomerol, and it is arguable that those châteaux located here would more logically be included within this appellation than St Emilion. Of course, a redrawing of the boundary between the two appellations is about as likely as a revision of the 1855 classification, or hell freezing over (I’m not sure which is the most unlikely out of these two) but that shouldn’t stop us acknowledging the incongruity of it all.