The 2003 Cheval Blanc, a blend of 56% Cabernet Franc and 44% Merlot, reveals an exquisite bouquet of mulberries, forest floor, new saddle leather, spice box and spring flowers. The first-growth quality aromatics are followed by a complex medium-bodied wine with more density than anticipated. The wine seems fully mature although there is an unexpected freshness and underlying depth of fruit. This beauty should continue to drink well for another 7-8 years.
One of the principal theories of the bizarre, historically hot and dry summer of 2003 is that grapes planted in gravelly and sandy soils were the least successful. If that was true 100% of the time, Cheval Blanc would have made a horrible wine. In fact, both the grand vin and second wine at Cheval Blanc did well in this vintage. It was the earliest harvest in over 110 years at this estate, and the resulting wine is a beauty. Drink 2014-2022
|Score: 92||Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (214), August 2014|
The 2003 Cheval Blanc, a tiny production of 5,000 cases, was bottled early to protect its delicate style. It is a light to medium-bodied, superficial, but seductive effort offering notes of cherries, herbs, smoke, and new oak. It possesses moderate depth as well as exceptional elegance and finesse. I suspect enough of its noble terroir comes through to please this estate’s fans. Obviously, the vintage’s severe heat and drought did not benefit Cheval Blanc’s lighter, gravelly soils. This fragrant 2003 is best consumed over the next 12-14 years.
|Score: 89||Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (164), April 2006|
Administrator Pierre Lurton told me that this wine is scheduled to be bottled in late March or early April to preserve its delicate fruit. Highly perfumed and somewhat evolved, it offers up scents of cedarwood, cranberries, mulberries, and currants. Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by the attractive, fragrant, sweet bouquet, and fresh, medium-bodied flavors. While there is not significant depth, substance, or concentration, it is a pure, elegant 2003 that may put on weight and perform even better in 4-5 years. My instincts suggest it will not be a long-lived example of Cheval Blanc. The final blend was 56% Cabernet Franc and 44% Merlot. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2017.
|Score: 89/91||Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (158), April 2005|
A delicate, elegant style of Cheval, that’s more into fruit than size, structure, and intensity, this soft, finesse-styled, medium-bodied effort reveals notes of cranberries, mangoes, cherries, and crushed stones in its moderately intense perfume. In the mouth, it is stylish, soft, pure, and builds incrementally. About 4% press wine was added to the final blend. The harvest, which produced only 30 hectoliters per hectare, was Cheval Blanc’s earliest ever, with the Merlot picked between September 1 - 5, and the Cabernet Franc between September 10 - 15. It was not easy, as manager Pierre Lurton acknowledged, having a vineyard on gravelly soils in the stifling unprecedented heat of the summer of 2003. Only 50% of the crop made it into Cheval Blanc, a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot (the highest percentage of Cabernet Franc in many years). Anticipated maturity: 2008-2018.
|Score: 89/92||Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (152), April 2004|
Blackberry, mineral and lightly toasted oak. Subtle and complex. Full-bodied, with wonderfully sweet fruit character and ultrarefined tannins. Goes on and on. Gorgeous and seductive. Best after 2009
|Score: 96||James Suckling, WineSpectator.com, March 2006|
Seductive. Blackberry, mineral and lightly toasted oak. Wonderfully sweet fruit character. Subtle and complex.
|Score: 96||James Suckling, Wine Spectator, February 2006|
Very pretty licorice and mineral aromas. Hints of flowers. Medium to full-bodied, with sweet and silky tannins. Lovely chocolate character. Racy and modern for Cheval Blanc. Not the 1998 but very fine indeed. Seductive juice. Long and beautiful.
|Score: 95/100||James Suckling, Wine Spectator (April 04), April 2004|
Pretty pale. Warm and lightly spicy nose. Is this the famous cashmere tannins vintage? The tannins are indeed well managed but there just doesn’t seem to be enough on the mid palate here. A bit jagged. Definitely need to wait for this to mellow but it doesn’t seem a triumph at this stage.
|Score: 17.5||Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, February 2008|
|Score: 17.5||Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (April 04), April 2004|
|Score: 17.5||Farr Vintners, Southwold Bordeaux Tasting, January 2007|
|Score: 18+||Michael Schuster, The World of Fine Wine (1), April 2004|