Pierre-Olivier Clouet

2009 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

2009 was a warm, dry year, but not to excess. 
Wonderfully ripe grapes account for this very great vintage of Château Cheval Blanc which is tremendously smooth with impressive concentration and exuberant richness. 
This wine leaves a strong impression and will continue to do so for many years​.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

The beginning of the growing season, in April, was wet. However, summer was quite dry from mid-July to mid-September.  After two days of rain on the 19th and 20th of September, a period of dry and remarkably stable weather set in and lasted until late October. Average temperatures throughout the growth cycle were slightly above-average. The months of June and August were fairly hot.  Mild daytime weather in September alternated with remarkably cool nights.

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. There were periods with significant water deficit in 2009 even though the level of precipitation throughout the growing season was greater than average. Temperatures were fairly high (but not excessively so), gradually increasing the water deficit by causing major transpiration in the vines.  Furthermore, a long dry period set in on the 10th of August, lasting until the 17th of September. There was a great deal of water stress early on in plots with gravelly soil, but this wsa later-occurring and more moderate in other types of soil.  This water stress reduced the size of the berries and made for an early stop to vegetative growth – and thus an early start to ripening. It also blocked ripening in certain plots of young vines whose root system was insufficiently developed.

GROWING SEASON

Bud break took place in the last week in March for Merlot and early April for Cabernet Franc. This was slightly later than usual. However, the vines made up for the delay by the time flowering occurred. Véraison took place in the first week of August. The first plots of Merlot were picked on the 15th of September, and Cabernet Franc was harvested between 28th of September and the 7th of October.
Variable weather early in the season called for careful attention to fight an outbreak of mildew.  The attack receded when dry weather came in July. Water stress slowed down vegetative growth and limited the size of the grapes: two essential factors for a great vintage. Bunch thinning during véraison (colour change) helped to even out ripening.  The grapes were picked in fine, nearly perfect condition. The beautiful, very stable weather during the harvest (15th of September to the 7th of October) meant that fruit in every plot was at just the right degree of ripeness, without a trace of grey rot.

Phenological stage Merlot
2009
Average  1994-2014 Cabernet franc
2009
Average 
1994-2014
Bud break March, 31st March, 28th April, 4th April, 2nd
Flowering May, 30th May, 30th June, 1st June, 1st
Véraison August, 1st August, 2nd August, 6th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 15th September, 19th September, 28th September, 27th
End of the Harvest October, 2nd September, 27th October, 7th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 60 days 63 days 58 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 63 days 64 days 67 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 46 days 48 days 53 days 50 days

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

The long dry spell in July and August was important in concentrating the grapes and also led to slightly lower-than-average yields.  Mild temperatures in August and September were very conducive to good ripening, while cool evenings in September locked in freshness and aromatics. The combination of these three factors resulted in a great vintage.  When it came time to pick, the grapes were very sweet, with low acid – a sign of complete ripeness. Anthocyanin content was especially high, indicative of superlative tannins and wines with great ageing potential.

2009 yields   (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 37.8 38.9
Cabernet Franc 32.8 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

2009 Cheval Blanc was not at all chaptalised. Approximately 3% of the juice was bled off, and the wine was aged in 100% new oak barrels for 18-17 months.
Traditional fining with egg white was done in order to settle particles in suspension in barrel. Two eggs were used per barrel, then the wine was filtered.

 

BLENDING

> Zoom plots

Date of bottling : May 9th, 2011.

Degree of alcohol 14
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 2.95
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.47
pH 3.71
Total SO2 (mg/L) 120
Reducing sugar conten(g/L) 1.6
IPT (DO280) 77

 

2009 is a full-bodied, rich, warm vintage

 

TASTING NOTES

This was a hot year in which the grapes reached a perfect degree of ripeness. The resulting wine is thus dark-coloured, smooth, deep, and intense.

2009 Cheval Blanc has an intense crimson colour and a subtle bouquet that is both fruity and flora. It also displays notes of fresh fig, blackberry, and red fruit such as raspberry, as well as hints of violet found in great vintages.

The wine is delightful on the palate thanks to its power, richness, body, and concentration. Blessed with superb balance, 2009 Cheval Blanc displays an incredible combination of power, delicacy, ripeness, and freshness. Complete and complex, it is above all smooth.

A vintage to age for a very long time, its complex bouquet will undoubtedly blossom over time. The wine's intrinsic freshness and power will undoubtedly remain unchanged.