Pierre-Olivier Clouet

2005 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

This warm year with record dry weather was as favourable to Merlot as it was to Cabernet Franc. 
This immense wine is elegant and powerful, with a beautiful tannic texture and great length. It will long leave its mark on the history of Château Cheval Blanc​.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

2005 was exceptionally dry. Total precipitation from January to September amounted to 344 mm – compared to an average of 572 mm. This was a very warm year, but without a heatwave like in 2003. Temperatures from April to September were 1.7°C above seasonal averages. These conditions were very favourable to vine growth and ripening.  The weather was dry, with average temperatures.

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. This was the case in 2005, and the vines were able to adapt gradually. In addition, the two previous growing seasons had also been dry, so the root systems had coped by sinking deeper into the soil. Despite the historically dry conditions, there was little loss of leaves. This situation also led to an early stop to vegetative growth and limited the size of berries. These were exceptionally small, a sure sign of concentration.

GROWING SEASON

Mid-véraison took place on the 31st of July for Merlot and the 6th of August for Cabernet Franc, which made 2005 an early year despite late bud break compared to the preceding 10-year average. The fact that vine growth made up for this delay is essentially due to very high temperatures in June (+ 3.5°C above average). Flowering and véraison were quick and even. The harvest began on the 12th of September. The fine weather in September meant that picking could wait for Cabernet Franc to reach optimum ripeness.  The harvest took 16 days and ended on the 27th of September.

Phenological stage Merlot
2005
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
2005
Average
1994-2014
Bud break April, 5th March, 28th April, 9th April, 2nd
Flowering May, 29th May, 30th May, 31st June, 1st
Véraison July, 30th August, 2nd August, 6th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 12th September, 19th September, 21st September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 16th September, 27th September, 27th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 56 days 63 days 53 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 63 days 64 days 69 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 44 days 48 days 46 days 50 days

 

There was extremely little oidium and mildew this year. The potential yield was quite high, so bunch thinning was done systematically in order to produce a very great vintage. This work in the vineyard, combined with outstandingly fine weather, produced superb grapes. 

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

The composition of these ripe grapes was outstanding and the sugar level was unprecedented. Acidity was on the low side, but not excessively so.  The fruit was ripe but not overly so, or candied, which happens sometimes in very hot years.  For the above reasons, the wine's high alcoholic degree was not an impediment to quality.  The grapes had a high concentration of phenolic compounds and very ripe tannin.   
The 2005 vintage was exceptionally fine in Bordeaux in general and at Cheval Blanc in particular.  In fact, all dry years (1989, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2009, and 2010) are great ones in Bordeaux – and 2005, the driest on record, confirms the rule. Both Merlot and Cabernet Franc were very successful. 2005 Cheval Blanc is rich, perfectly balanced, and shows great freshness.

2005 yields    (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 45.5 38.9
Cabernet Franc 40.0 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

Maceration varied from 19-26 days. The blend contained 5% of press wine. One percent of the wine was bled off from fermentation vats, and there was no chaptalisation whatsoever. Ageing took place in 100% new oak barrels for 16-17 months.

 

BLENDING

> Zoom plots

 

Date of bottling : April 16th, 2007.

Degree of alcohol 14
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.1
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.57
pH 3.92
Total SO2 (mg/L) 94
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.3
IPT (DO280) 79

 

 

2005 is clearly an outstanding vintage. It is powerful, complex, and has great length as well as tremendous ageing potential

 

TASTING NOTES

The weather this year was ideal and brought together all the necessary qualities of a great vintage. This was the driest growing season ever recorded in Saint Emilion. It also confirms that dry years make for outstanding vintages in Bordeaux.

The colour is exceptionally deep, dark, and intense.

The nose is rich, with ripe black fruit aromas.

In fact, this wine is rich in every respect. It shows concentrated black fruit on the palate, as well as a beautiful tannic texture - the sign of great Cabernet Franc. The aftertaste is tremendously long and generous - the sign of an outstanding year.

Marked by Cabernet Franc in superb condition contributing elegance and complexity, this vintage also features power and richness of similarly successful Merlot grapes. The extraordinary length is indicative a wine that will last for several generations.