Pierre-Olivier Clouet

1998 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

This was an outstanding, classic vintage marked by very dry and relatively cool weather.   1998 Cheval Blanc is both ethereal and rich, powerful and classy, with a very pure style.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

After a dry month of May, precipitation was close to average in June and July.  August was very dry. Temperatures were fairly average during the growing season, although May and August were warmer than usual, and July cooler than most years.  September started out warm with light showers. However, the weather cooled down after the 10th of September, at which time it started to rain. 1998 is an excellent vintage despite these September rains.

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 water deficit was significant in August. This naturally stopped vine growth and channelled vigour into ripening grapes that became very concentrated.

GROWING SEASON 

Le Bud break took place three days before the average date, while flowering and véraison happened at the usual times.  The cool weather that set in starting on the 11th of September stopped the spread of grey rot.  All the Merlot grapes were picked before the heavy rain on the 27th of Septembe.

Phenological stage  Merlot
1998
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
 1998
Average
1994-2014
Bud break March, 25th March, 28th March, 29th April, 2nd
Flowering June, 3rd May, 30th June, 4th June, 1st
Véraison August, 5th August, 2nd August, 9th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 21st September, 19th September, 28th September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 25th September, 27th October, 5th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 71 days 63 days 68 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 64 days 64 days 67 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 48 days 48 days 51 days 50 days

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

Thanks to the dry weather in August, vegetative growth stopped early. This was propitious to the ripening of small berries with a high concentration of sugar and phenolic compounds. Colour, as well as these phenolic compounds, were easily extracted during maceration. The Merlot averaged 13° alcohol. The quality of this Merlot was outstanding, and the Cabernet Franc was good as well. Yields were low: 32 hectolitres per hectare.

1998 yields    (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 31 38.9
Cabernet franc 32.2 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

Comprising 10% press wine, 1997 Cheval Blanc was aged in 100% new oak barrels. 

 

BLENDING

> Zoom plots

Degree of alcohol 13
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.7
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.59
pH 3.42
Total SO2 (mg/L) 100
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.2
IPT (DO280) 77

 

1998 Cheval Blanc is a magnificent classic wine: complete, complex, and with a very pure style

 

TASTING NOTES

1998 Cheval Blanc is an outstanding vintage in a classic style typical of the château. It is not only rich and powerful, but also remarkably well-balanced.

The intense deep ruby-red colour features brilliant highlights and a browning rim.

The nose is rich and concentrated with polished, well-focused ripe black fruit aromas as well as notes of tobacco, truffle, and cedar. The bouquet also features empyreumatic, roasted notes of cocoa and almonds that are balanced by very fresh eucalyptus and bay leaf nuances.

The wine is round and rich on the palate, with very pure, well-defined flavours. The tasty aftertaste is impressively complex and elegant. In addition, the fine, rich tannic texture shows no aggressiveness whatsoever. The aftertaste is tremendously long, with an ethereal finish that goes on and on - the sign of a wine of distinction.

The 1998 vintage is pure, remarkably focused, and complex, with a rich, powerful, perfectly balanced flavour. It needs to be kept a long time to reveal its full potential.