Pierre-Olivier Clouet

2013 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

2013 mainly featured a rainy June which disturbed flowering and a hot and dry summer. 
Thanks to a historically low yield in volumes, 2013 Château Cheval Blanc is a wine full of freshness and smoothness
.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

After an April with temperatures close to normal values, May and June were exceptionnally cool and damp with a significant lack of sunshine. July saw the beginning of a very hot and dry period, but the end of the month was punctuated by violent storms – for example, 37 mm of rain was recorded on July 27. The hail spared Cheval Blanc, however. Early August was marked by a period of inclement weather with a particularly violent storm on 2 August which, as you know, destroyed several thousand hectares of Bordeaux vineyards. However, once again Cheval Blanc was spared. A spell of hot, dry and sunny weather settled in from 8 August to 5 September. 
September featured several days of quite heavy rain, but the total amount of rainfall remained close to normal values. Early October was mild and very damp.

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 spring was wet and kept the water stress from setting in until July. A spell of dry weather settled in from 8 August to 5 September, which increased the water stress on clay and on gravel soils, but not on sandy soils. 58mm of rainfall were measured during the harvest between 30th September and 15th October.

GROWING SEASON

The cool, rainy spring held back vine phenology. This delay amounted to approximately a week at budburst, and more than two weeks at flowering, which took place in cool and particularly damp weather. Significant coulure was observed in both Merlot and in old Cabernet Franc plots. Branch growth continued until late in the season, ending in early September for gravel and clay soils and not until late September or early October for sandy soils.
Mildew pressure was high throughout the season, including in August. At harvest time, the mild but damp weather produced botrytis pressure.

Phenological stage  Merlot
2013
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
2013
Average
1994-2014
Bud break  April, 5th  March, 28th April, 12th April, 2nd
Flowering June, 13th May, 30th June, 16th  June, 1st
Véraison August, 17th  August, 2nd August, 21th  August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 30th September, 19th October, 3rd September, 27th
End of the Harvest October, 9th September, 27th October, 15th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 69 days 63 days 65 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 65 days 64 days 66 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 45 days 48 days 43 days 50 days

 

Mildew pressure was high throughout the season, including in August. At harvest time, the mild but damp weather produced botrytis pressure.

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

The hot weather in July and the dry period in late August did not speed up phenology, which was more than two weeks behind at mid-veraison. This made it the lastest veraison for 25 years. Harvesting took place from 30 September to 15 October. The choice of harvest date was a compromise between the desire to attain optimum ripeness and the requirement to ensure a good level of health. As a result, the ripening period – the number of days between mid-veraison and harvesting – was slightly shorter than the average over the last fifteen years.

2013 yields   (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 23.0 38.9
Cabernet Franc 22.0 34.2

 

The yield for 2013 was very low (22hl/ha). The main reason for this was the high level of coulure, caused by adverse fertilization conditions at flowering. Significant sorting during the harvest also had a negative impaction the historically low volumes harvested.

 

CELLAR WORK

The wine underwent no saignée (bleeding from fermentation vats), and was not chaptalised. It contains no press wine and was entirely aged in new oak barrels for 15 months.

 

BLENDING

> Zoom plots

Date of bottling: June 8th, 2015.

Degree of alcohol 12.90
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.23
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.26
pH 3.61
Total SO2 (mg/L) 112
Reducing sugar content (g/L) <2
IPT (DO280) 59

 

The 2013 vintage is a unique chapter in the history of Cheval Blanc, reflecting a risky but actually successful year

 

TASTING NOTES

A deep, ruby red appearance.
The intensity of aromas is very pronounced. On the nose, it conjures up a cocktail of red fruit, raspberry and cherry, and candied fruit, black-berry, blueberry and plum. Swirling unveils a floral bouquet of Austin rose and lilac, together with a hint of almond.
The tannins are ripe and silky, smooth and rounded. The wine is supple and full and the medium-length finish leaves an impression of freshness. The absence of oak is worthy of mention.