Pierre-Olivier Clouet

1994 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

1994 was warm and dry in summer, but suffered from heavy showers in September.  After a Merlot-type year in 1993, 1994 reflects the finesse and freshness of excellent Cabernet Franc grapes​.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

1994 was a warm vintage, with an average temperature of 14.3°C, i.e. 1.4°C more than usual. Total rainfall was also much greater than usual, but the distribution was uneven. The beginning of the growing season was wet and mild, accompanied however in early April by cool temperatures usual for that time of year. July and August were very hot and rather dry.  The weather became much more cool starting on the 7th of September, and it rained a great deal until the end of the month.

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. The dry part of the growing season occurred much earlier than in 1993 despite the rain in the month of June. Warm weather in July and August brought about early water stress and a stop to vegetative growth. However, heavy showers starting on the 8th of September cancelled out most of the water stress.

GROWING SEASON

Budbreak took place early in 1994: the 16th of March for Merlot and the 20th of March for Cabernet Franc - the same as in 1990. Mid-flowering took place on the 31st of May for both varieties, and véraison occurred in early August: on the 3rd for Merlot and the 7th for Cabernet Franc. The harvest began early, on the 16nd of September and lasted until the 29th of that month.

Phenological stage  Merlot
1994
Average 
1994-2014
Cabernet franc
1994
Average
1994-2014
Bud break March, 16th March, 28th March, 20th April, 2nd
Flowering May, 31st May, 30th May, 31st June, 1st
Véraison August, 3rd August, 2nd August, 7th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 16th September, 19th September, 22th September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 22th September, 27th September, 29th October, 5th
Number of days between …        
Bud break and Flowering 76 days 63 days 72 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 64 days 64 days 68 days 68 days
Véraison and Harves 40 days 48 days 46 days 50 days

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

After a period of quick ripening, the accumulation of sugar and phenolic compounds slowed down due to rain in the latter part of September. Both the Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes were nevertheless ripe when it came time to pick, with low acidity and average sugar levels.  Yields were greater than average for Merlot, but very low for Cabernet Franc. However, the latter was particularly aromatic.  The weight of the berries was above average. This was probably due to the rain in September that accounted for a certain dilution.

1994 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield: 1946 to 2014
42.0 33.9

 

Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.35
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.59
pH 3.47
Total SO2 (mg/L) 120
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.0
IPT (DO280) 60

 

Despite the low proportion in the final blend, Cabernet Franc's aromatic intensity left a strong mark on the 1994 vintage

 

TASTING NOTES

This was a warm, dry year marked by September showers that caused a slight dilution in the grapes.

The colour is a deep ruby-red with a brick-red rim just about right for its age.

Powerful, elegant, and complex, 1994 Cheval Blanc has a fine nose of red fruit, spice, and roasted aromas of cocoa, caramel, coffee, and vanilla. There are also tertiary elements of cedar and banana.

The wine starts out quite fresh and refined, with a silky mouth feel and great complexity. 1994 Cheval Blanc tastes like a fruit cocktail in which cherry is the prevailing flavour. The tannic texture is fine-grained and the wine is light on its feet. It is nevertheless intense from beginning to end, with a beautiful aftertaste in which Cabernet Franc's remarkable aromatic intensity comes through, despite its low proportion in the final blend.

Although not as rich as 1995, this vintage reflects the all finesse and originality of Cabernet Franc. 1994 Cheval Blanc is presently at its peak and ready to drink.