Cheval Blanc 1989
Tasting Notes and Scores
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate 01/01/2003
Somewhat of a disappointment in a sometimes great yet variable vintage, the color a dark ruby with amber at the edge, this wine shows sweet plum, fig, and currant notes, along with some herbs and earth. In the mouth, it is surprisingly lightweight for a wine from a superior year, medium-bodied, relatively lush, but an essentially one-dimensional wine with a spicy, surprisingly short finish. Drink it over the next 10-15 years. Last tasted, 12/02.
Since its bottling, the 1989 has frequently been disappointing. In this tasting, it showed better than it has over the last several years. The 1989 is not a great effort for this chateau. The color is already revealing an amber edge, and the lead pencil, cedar, spicy, black fruit, and vanillin-scented nose is more reminiscent of a young Lafite, than the exotic style associated with Cheval Blanc in a hot, dry, ripe year. This medium weight, lightly tannic wine is very approachable. I have rated the 1989 Cheval Blanc consistently between 87 and 89, which is indicative of an excellent wine, but given the vintage terroir, this is not one of the star's of the 1989 vintage. It should continue to drink well for 10-15+ years, as there is moderate tannin in the wine's elegant framework, but readers should not expect any miracles.
The 1989 Cheval Blanc is a vintage that I have not encountered since 2010. One bottle opened was rustic and fatigued, and Pierre-Olivier Clouet opened a second that was much better. It has a gorgeous bouquet of ample red fruit, morels, black truffle, cigar box and hints of brown sugar, all very well defined and charming. The palate is medium-bodied with grainy tannin and approaching full maturity; brown spices, bay leaf and clove infuse the red berry fruit. At 30 years of age, I suspect this 1989 will not improve further, but its robustness suggests that any decline will be graceful. Tasted from an ex-cellar bottle at the château.
Ripe, almost cooked fruit, with nuts, raisin and spices. Full-bodied, with a dense palate of ripe fruit and a leathery, spicy, dried berry character. So long and powerful. Chewy. This is big and very juicy, with loads of powerful fruit. A little alcoholic, even rustic, but I like it.--'89/'99 Bordeaux blind retrospective (2009). James Suckling
(yield of 51 h/h; 13% alcohol): Garnet-tinged red. Leafy aromas of green and red bell pepper, bay leaf and sweeter milk chocolate and superripe plum. Then sweeter and smoother in the mouth than the nose suggests, showing very ripe red cherry, blackberry, milk chocolate and mineral flavors. This boasts a lovely creamy texture and a nice spicy finish, with chewy tannins. A lovely wine, with a sexy personality that grew on me as it opened in the glass, but it's much inferior to the stellar 1990. Make sure you decant this at least a couple hours ahead. A precocious year, 1989 registered only 450 millimeters of rainfall (or half the normal amount) during the growth cycle, with the flowering taking place in the last week of May and veraison during the first week of August. Harvest was from September 7 to 27, the earliest start ever at Cheval Blanc. Ian D'Agata