This was an outstanding, classic vintage marked by very dry and relatively cool weather.  

This vintage of Petit Cheval was made primarily from Cabernet Franc. It is very fruity, well-balanced, and has outstanding length.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

After a dry month of May, precipitation was close to average in June and July.  August was very dry. Temperatures were fairly average during the growing season, although May and August were warmer than usual, and July cooler than most years.  September started out warm with light showers. However, the weather cooled down after the 10th of September, at which time it started to rain. 1998 is an excellent vintage despite these September rains.

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 water deficit was significant in August. This naturally stopped vine growth and channelled vigour into ripening grapes that became very concentrated.

GROWING SEASON 

Le Bud break took place three days before the average date, while flowering and véraison happened at the usual times.  The cool weather that set in starting on the 11th of September stopped the spread of grey rot.  All the Merlot grapes were picked before the heavy rain on the 27th of Septembe.

Phenological stage  Merlot
1998
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
 1998
Average
1994-2014
Bud break March, 25th March, 28th March, 29th April, 2nd
Flowering June, 3rd May, 30th June, 4th June, 1st
Véraison August, 5th August, 2nd August, 9th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 21st September, 19th September, 28th September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 25th September, 27th October, 5th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 71 days 63 days 68 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 64 days 64 days 67 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 48 days 48 days 51 days 50 days

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

Thanks to the dry weather in August, vegetative growth stopped early. This was propitious to the ripening of small berries with a high concentration of sugar and phenolic compounds. Colour, as well as these phenolic compounds, were easily extracted during maceration. The Merlot averaged 13° alcohol. The quality of this Merlot was outstanding, and the Cabernet Franc was good as well. Yields were low: 32 hectolitres per hectare.

1998 yields    (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 31.0 38.9
Cabernet franc 32.2 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

Comprising 9% press wine, 1998 Petit Cheval was aged in 100% new oak barrels. 

 

BLENDING

> Zoom plots

Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.46
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.6
pH 3.42
Total SO2 (mg/L) 80
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 0.8
IPT (DO280) 77

 

TASTING NOTES

This is a magnificent Petit Cheval: fruity, full-bodied, and very complex.

Much of the pretty, deep, ruby-red colour of its youth remains.

The nose is very intense and expressive: Morello cherry, strawberry, cherry, and orange zest. There are also understated overtones of oak and a touch of menthol.

The wine starts out quite fresh, well-focused, and aromatic, with a mint-like quality. Ripe red fruit comes through on the middle palate. The tannin is tight and full of character. The fruity, exceptionally long aftertaste is pure and perfectly polished.

1998 Petit Cheval is an outstanding second wine, from beginning to end.