2015 is a dry vintage, hot early in the year, then fresh on maturation. The harvest was of historical homogeneity, leading the estate not to produce Petit Cheval. The wines of 2015 are remarkably harmonious and balanced.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

Temperatures and rainfalls were close to normal values in the first three months of the year. The rest of 2015 was particularly dry, with the exception of a rainy episode in the first fortnight of August. Accumulated precipitations for the year amounted to 535 mm, the second lowest value in 20 years. Only 2005 was dryer (501 mm). Temperatures were well above the normal values from April to August included. The months of September and October were dry and rather cool. With the exception of quite heavy rain on October 2, the vast majority of the harvest took place under dry weather.

WATER BALANCE

2015 was a very dry year, punctuated by a rainy episode during the first fortnight of August. The vine still resisted very well to this drought. It sat very gradually during the first part of the season, and the vines were able to put adaption mechanisms in place. In early August, the water stress was nevertheless very strong on gravelly soils where stem potential values of -16 bars were recorded. Thanks to the rains of August, this major constraint has not switched to water stress, which could have been harmful for young vines on gravelly soils. From August 15, new dry conditions allowed the water deficit to widen again to early October. If one classifies vintages since 1952 from the driest to the wettest by the water balance calculation, 2015 is ranked 2nd on 64 at 30th of September.

GROWING SEASON

In 2015, bud break was the latest ever recorded in Cheval Blanc for 25 years. With beautiful hot and dry weather from April to July, the delay was catched back at flowering, which was rapid and homogeneous. Veraison was also regrouped. The unusual water regime in 2015 created particularly favorable conditions for rapid maturation, especially on gravelly soils. Water stress in the early season induced a particularly early growth arrest, by the end of June on some plots, and reduced the size of the berries. The rains of August have revived the photosynthesis immediately after mid-veraison, the berries filling period. The combination of a growing vine stop, a small berry size and strong sugars produced by photosynthesis, has led to a very fast ripening on gravel soils. A first parcel of Merlot was harvested on September 3, just 31 days after the mid-veraison. On other types of soil, conditions of maturation were more classic and durations between veraison and harvest more in line with usual value. In these conditions, and helped by particularly favorable weather conditions throughout the month of September (fresh and dry), the harvest lasted until 6 October (33 days), which is a record for Cheval Blanc. Several parcels of Merlot on sandy soil were harvested later than the Cabernet Franc on gravelly soil.

Phenological stage  Merlot average 1996-2015 Cabernet franc average 1996-2015
Bud break  April, 12th March, 30th April, 12th April, 4th
Flowering May, 31st May, 30th June, 1st June, 1st
Véraison August, 2nd August, 2nd August, 7th August, 6th
Harvest September, 3rd to 28th September, 18th September, 18th to October, 6th September, 28th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 49 days 61 days 50 days 58 days
Flowering and Véraison 63 days 64 days 64 days 67 days
Véraison and Harvest 32 days 48 days 45 days 51 days

 

The season was marked by an unusual virulence of black rot. Some mildew spots appeared with rains in early August, but they quickly dried by the end of the month. However, with the overall dry conditions, the pressure of fungal diseases was relatively low throughout the season. The incidence of Botrytis at harvest was minimal. 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

The bud-break of the vine was correct, and flowering took place in fairly good conditions. Despite a near average berry weight, performance was fairly significantly below the normal value for both varieties.

Early water stress reduced the size of the berries for Merlot. The rains of August further impacted the weight of Cabernet franc berries, a later variety.

The composition of the must reflected the good ripening conditions. The grapes were rich in sugar and low in malic acid. The average degree of Cabernet Franc was slightly higher than the Merlot, which had already been observed in 2011. However, thanks to the cool conditions of the end of the season, the pH steeping were lower than the mean values ​​and the grapes kept a very good aromatic freshness. They were moderately rich in phenolic compounds.

The grapes were poor in nitrogen, especially for Merlot. This low nitrogen supply poses no qualitative problem, but the vats needed added nitrogen to ensure a good fermentation of the musts.

2015 is a dry year, punctuated by rain at veraison. The beginning of the year was hot and cooler temperatures were recorded during the ripening period. These climatic conditions were favorable for maturation. The wines of 2015 are particularly harmonious and balanced.

 

2015 yields   (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 39,7 38,9
Cabernet Franc 28,2 34,2

 

 

 

CELLAR WORK

The vinification was very classical in 2015. Four tanks, filled with grapes from sandy soils, were bled at 15%, which gives a very low average bleeding rate over the whole harvest (1.6%).

BLENDING

 

 

Since the 2015 vintage has not yet been physically released, information on bottling and analysis is not available yet.