Cheval des Andes joins La Place to gain ‘consistency and clarity’

Cheval des Andes, a joint project between St Emilion’s Cheval Blanc and LVMH’s Terrazas de los Andes in Luján de Cuyo, is to be sold via La Place de Bordeaux from this month.

Speaking to the drinks business, Pierre Lurton, president Cheval des Andes and Château Cheval Blanc, said that after 20 years of evolution, Cheval des Andes had the “maturity” to join “its big brother Cheval Blanc by being distributed through its historic channel: La Place de Bordeaux”.

“In addition, our customers – distributors, importers, retailers, cellar masters, sommeliers and in short, wine lovers – are the same for these two wines, so it’s logical to harmonise their distribution,” he said. “For many years La Place de Bordeaux has successfully shown its ability to distribute icons from all over the world.”

Indeed New World wines from the likes of Argentina’s Catena Zapata, Francis Ford Coppola’s Napa Valley winery Inglenook, and Napa Valley winery Joseph Phelps, have all joined La Place within the past year.

Last week, the drinks business reported that Klein Constantia’s famous sweet wine, Vin de Constance, would also be distributed through La Place for the first time this year. Valentin Jestin, commercial and marketing director at Dourthe – sister company to CVBG (one of the top four biggest négociants) – told db that non-Bordeaux wines now account for as much as 10% of CVBG’s business, spread across around 15 brands, and it’s a growing area of sales.

Cheval des Andes, which produces only one wine from its 47-hectare estate, will be releasing its 2016 vintage through merchants in La Place this month.

Lurton believes the move will help his estates “gain consistency and clarity”.

“We believe that Cheval des Andes and Cheval Blanc share the same work philosophy and the same convictions,” he said. “It’s therefore obvious that by being distributed through the same channel, our message and the exchanges we have with the market can only gain consistency and clarity.”

“Moreover, as a “cru”, Cheval des Andes displays differences in balance, quantity and identity in each different vintage. The vintage effect is well understood by the knowledgeable Place.

“So that’s what we expect from La Place de Bordeaux: the ability to spread our DNA to wine lovers from around the world.”

Cheval des Andes is now presided over by Gérald Gabillet, who took over as estate manager and head winemaker this year. He was previously the technical manager and winemaker for Cheval des Andes and before that technical and winemaking director at Château Angelus.

Gabillet told the drinks business that Cheval Blanc has increasingly had a stronger influence over the property and contributed to the decision to grub up its Cabernet Franc vines last year. The goal, therefore, is to use more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend in order to achieve more of a 50:50 split between it and Malbec.

“We’re applying Cheval Blanc’s philosophy to create great wines with freshness, elegance and with potential for ageing,” he said.

Gabillet believes it’s about having the confidence to do what is best for your individual site. The wine, which blends grapes from Las Compuertas in Luján de Cuyo and Altamira in the Uco Valley, changes each year to reflect the “season”.

“People thought we were crazy taking out our Cabernet Franc as it’s a very successful variety at the moment,” he says. “But for us, we’re just working for our own experiences and what works in our location.”

He added: “At each vintage we’re thinking what we need to change,” referring to the use of different types of oak and different sized vessels. He believes French oak gives the wine more structure, while Eastern European oak can be “interesting for short ageing in barrels”.

He said that for the 2018 vintage, the portion of the wine aged in Eastern European oak barrels had been removed first, but the part in French oak had been left in for longer.

“We only have one wine so we’re just focused on this one project in order to make the best possible blend,” Gabillet said.

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