Château Cheval Blanc, Premier Grand Cru Classé A in St-Emilion, will be producing no Petit Cheval, its second label, for the Bordeaux 2015 vintage.
Cheval Blanc technical director Pierre Olivier Clouet told Decanter.com that the choice for Bordeaux 2015 was the ‘consecration of the technical decisions we have made in the vineyard and cellar’.
In a typical year Petit Cheval – which was first produced in 1988 – represents around 15,000 bottles compared to 80,000 for the St-Emilion estate’s first wine. Clouet confirmed that 91% of its 2015 vintage would be for Cheval Blanc and the remaining 9% would be used for a generic bottling to be distributed internally.
Anticipation is rising for the Bordeaux 2015 vintage ahead of the en primeur tasting week at the beginning of April. Several château owners have said quality is set to be strong.
‘We have only two plots out of our 45 that will not be used for Cheval Blanc 2015,’ said Clouet.
‘That was not enough to produce a Petit Cheval. We harvested from 3 September to 6 October, the longest span ever at the château, and it meant that each plot was able to be harvested at perfect maturity.
‘We re-tasted our potential blends many times, always blind, and it was clear that the one using all different expressions of the vineyard was truly the best blend.’
Clouet said that while this was not likely to happen every year, the long-term work that they have undertaken with massal selection and the diversity of clones in the vineyards means that the quality of their vineyard stock is exceptionally high. ‘We never use less than 70% of the vineyard plots in the first wine, and believe strongly that the complexity of our terroir is critical to the flavour profile of Cheval Blanc’.
LVMH, owner of Cheval Blanc, have a history of making bold moves with its wines. It bottled no Château d’Yquem, the Sauternes first growth, in 2012, and held it back from selling en primeur in 2011 and 2013 waiting until the ‘climate’ was better to receive the wine.
At the same time in 2015, two Médoc estates, Château Clerc Milon and Château Batailley, are introducing a second wine for the first time.