Le Petit Cheval Blanc, 2017

Bordeaux is a wine region steeped in history, from the Roman plantings in St Emilion, the Medieval vineyards of Graves and Sauternes, and the opening up of the Médoc during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is also steeped in tradition, so much so that at times it can seem unchanging, unmoving. To some extent this perhaps true; it is certainly a while since any of the top classed growth estates of the Médoc changed hands, for example.

And yet in truth there is always change in Bordeaux. Employees, for example, move from one château to another as they further their careers. This can be very confusing – like the time I turned up at a château in St Emilion to be greeted by someone who (as I would later realise) I had last seen when they were working in St Julien. I spent the entire visit wondering why they looked familiar. Practices and beliefs also change; conventionally farmed vineyards become organic, organically farmed vineyards become biodynamic. And, once in a while a new cuvée appears, a new second or third label perhaps.

Le Petit Cheval Blanc

One significant development in Bordeaux in recent years is the increasing interest in making white wines. In fact, looking back at my notes from the 2014 Margaux primeurs tasting, the later Paul Pontallier revealed at that point he was planning to introduce a white grand vin, superior to Pavillon Blanc. It was quite a surprise (I must find out what happened to that project next time I visit). Little did I realise, however, that on Bordeaux’s other bank the team at a château of similar standing were not planning, but doing. The 2014 vintage sees the inaugural release of the first white wine from Château Cheval Blanc.

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