One vine of Château Cheval Blanc’s vineyard carries just five or six clusters of grapes. That barely makes one bottle of wine, and – in the case of this esteemed Right Bank estate – about £500 worth of wine, depending on the vintage.
You could say these vines are almost worth their weight in gold… So why then has Cheval Blanc uprooted over 3,000 vines in order to plant humble fruit trees in the vineyard instead?
Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for a selection of Château Cheval Blanc and Cheval des Andes wines
This tree planting is part of Cheval Blanc’s rather radical agroecology plan, which has been evolving since 2009 in a bid to mitigate the impact of climate change on the estate’s wines.
‘If we don’t change the way we manage the vineyard today, it will be too late and our wine will change forever,’ explains technical director Pierre-Olivier Clouet. ‘Climate change will bring higher alcohol, drier tannins, riper fruit… So we had to make a significant change to the whole estate – not just by experimenting with one or two rows.’
The team has planted 80 trees per hectare of vines; not only surrounding the vines with hedgerows, woodlands and wildlife corridors but actually planting tree saplings within the vine rows, replacing some vines.