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Bordeaux 2014: ‘a real Cheval Blanc’

Bordeaux 2014 may not be “outstanding”, but for Cheval Blanc’s technical director, it is a “classical vintage” that produced “a real Cheval Blanc”.

Château Cheval Blanc

During a tasting yesterday at the property, Cheval Blanc technical director Pierre-Olivier Clouet said that the dry sunny conditions during September and October “saved the vintage” and resulted in “beautiful wine” with “freshness”, but stressed that the vintage was not a truly great year due to the cool summer conditions across Bordeaux.

“You can’t build an outstanding vintage without the summer,” he said.

However, he said that the weather in 2014 had produced “a real Cheval”.

Explaining the remark, he added, “It is a real Cheval for us, because it is elegant, and this is what we expect from Cheval Blanc.”

Continuing, he commented, “We love an outstanding vintage like 2009, but if you taste it blind, it is difficult to find that it is Cheval; similarly, 47 is one of the best, but 48 is more Cheval than 47.”

Speaking more generally about the vintage he said, “If Bordeaux would stop using the word ‘classical’ to describe an inferior vintage then this for me is really a classical vintage… 2013 was a modest vintage, but this [2014] is really classical.”

He also commented that it was a late vintage, “and we love late vintages”.

Indeed, he compared 2014 to another late vintage, 2008, although he also said that last year’s harvest was similar to 2001.

“You could compare the palate to 2008 because it has tannins plus acidity, but on the nose, perhaps ’98 or 2001, because it [2014] is elegant and complex.”

However, he then said that the 2014s were “unique” and described the Cheval Blanc made from last year’s harvest as “very long, very fine, with no fat”.

Cheval Blanc produced no third wine in 2014, and 25% of its production (25,000 bottles) went into its second wine Petit Cheval.

Notably, Clouet admitted that 2014’s grand vin contained grapes from vines planted just three years ago.

“Because there was some rain giving water to the vines in June, July and August, our young vines worked perfectly – there was no stopping of the maturation – so we decided to blend in Merlot that was in its first year of production; just three years old.”

He added that the young vines had produced fruit with an “explosive” nose, although they accounted for just 1% of the wine in Cheval Blanc, and came from a 1.5-hectare plot planted on gravel soils.

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