Pierre-Olivier Clouet

Pierre-Olivier Clouet Technical Director

This was a very hot year with record drought conditions. The growing season started exceptionally early. 
1989 Cheval Blanc is concentrated and fresh, with a bouquet of rare aromatic complexity displaying hints of ripe fruit and mint.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

This was a very hot, dry year. Cumulative rainfall was 664 mm at Bordeaux-Mérignac, i.e. 25% below the regional average. There was even less rain in Saint Emilion. While summer was quite hot, there was no true heat wave. The highest temperature recorded between véraison and the harvest was 32.5°C. Insolation was above average (+13% in July, August, and September).

WATER BALANCE

In order to grow well, the vine needs for water stress to set in slowly so the grapes to ripen well and become concentrated. 1989 was one of the driest vintages in the past 50 years. Only 2005 had a more negative water balance.

GROWING SEASON

1989 was an exceptionally early year as well, with bud break in late March, flowering the last week in May, and véraison the first week of August. The harvest started on the 7th of September – the earliest date since the beginning of in the 20th century for Château Cheval Blanc – and lasted until the 27th of that month.   The crop was larger than usual.

  Merlot Cabernet franc
  Begin End Begin End
1989 harvest dates September, 7th     September, 27th
Average harvest dates (1986-2014) September, 19th September, 27th September, 27th October, 5th

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

The fruit was in remarkably fine condition seeing as there had been very little threat all year long from vine diseases. The grapes were rich and concentrated.  
The average degree of alcohol was 13°. 
The somewhat excessive weather conditions created a slight gap in ripeness between the pulp and the skin. This explains why there are a few herbaceous notes in the complex bouquet.

1989 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield: 1946 to 2014
50.7 33.9

 

Degree of alcohol 13
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 2.94
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.55
pH -
Total SO2 (mg/L) 124
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.6
IPT (DO280) -

 

1989 Cheval Blanc stands out because of its complexity, great richness, and remarkable freshness, all in perfect balance

 

TASTING NOTES

This is a concentrated, complex vintage at Cheval Blanc, with remarkable freshness.

The colour is beautiful and deep, with a just a touch of brown on the rim.

The nose takes time to open up. Both complex and concentrated, it expresses blackcurrant and prune compote aromas. The bouquet goes on to display slightly spicy, peppery overtones, as well as suggestions of forest floor, leather, and herbes de Provence.

1989 Cheval Blanc is round and fresh on the palate. Well-structured, it has good body and ethereal tannin, as well as opulent, elegant flavours of blackberry, blackcurrant, macerated cherries, and a soupçon of musk. The remarkably long and complex aftertaste has smoky and Russian leather notes.

The 1989 vintage has come of age, but its remarkable freshness implies that it will hold at its peak for years to come.