This late-ripening vintage produced rich wines with good structure and balance.

1996 Petit Cheval is elegant and aromatic, in a beautiful pure style. It is very fruity, refined, and fresh.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

April and May were slightly warmer than usual, with average rainfall. The weather in June started out fine, but was much cooler in the last ten days of the month. There was little rain on the whole. The first ten days of July were cool and very wet. However, this month was very hot and dry thereafter.  Temperatures were very close to average in August, but with a great deal of rain. The weather was beautiful and dry at the very end of the month, but a cool period then set in. Early September was dry and fine, with bright sunshine, however it remained relatively cool, with northerly and easterly winds. Maximum temperatures were very pleasant and close to average, but night-time ones were colder than usual. This locked in freshness and led to good, but not excessive ripening.  Uncertain weather arrived on the 25th of September, with storms lasting until the 5th of October.

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. Water stress was very marked in 1996, despite regular and even heavy showers in August.

GROWING SEASON

On the whole, it can be said that this was a late-ripening vintage since most stages of phenological maturity occurred after physiological maturity. The growth cycle slowed down after bud break, which took place on the 8th of April for both Merlot and Cabernet Franc – 11 days later than usual for Merlot and 6 days later than usual for Cabernet Franc. Flowering and véraison were also later than average. The harvest, on the other hand, was in keeping with the usual dates, starting on the 23rd of September for Merlot and finishing on the 4th of October for Cabernet Franc.

Phenological stage Merlot
1996
Average
1994-2014
Cabernet franc
1996
Average
1994-2014
Bud break April, 8th March, 28th April, 8th April, 2nd
Flowering June, 5th May, 30th June, 6th June, 1st
Véraison August, 7th August, 2nd August, 12th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 23rd September, 19th September, 28th September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 28th September, 27th October, 4th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 59 days 63 days 60 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 64 days 64 days 68 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 48 days 48 days 48 days 50 days

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

Despite the heavy rains in August, the weight of the berries was not particularly great. In fact, Cabernet Franc grapes were more concentrated than usual. The quality of Merlot was uneven, but first-class fruit was picked on the 23rd and 24th of September. Cabernet Franc was harvested from the 28th of September to the 4th of October. Quality was excellent. The grapes had average sugar levels, but were rich in phenolic compounds. They showed fairly strong acidity, with marked malic acid.

1996 yields    (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 42.0 38.9
Cabernet franc 41.9 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

Consisting of 8% press wine, 1996 Petit Cheval was aged in 100% new oak barrels for 12 months. 

 

BLENDING

> Zoom plots

Degree of alcohol 13
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.55
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.7
pH 3.24
Total SO2 (mg/L) 80
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 0.9
IPT (DO280) -

 

TASTING NOTES

The ruby-red colour is quite intense.

The nose displays attractive fruity aromas such as ripe wild strawberries that give an impression of great freshness. The bouquet also features hints of clove and cinnamon, as well as understated oak.

The wine starts out very smooth on the palate, going on to show a beautiful structure, excellent fruit, and an attractive freshness. The fine-grained tannin is polished and elegant. The flavour profile is altogether very pure.

The wine retains considerable freshness.