This was a warm, but not a dry year, with generous yields. The wines are delicious and opened up quite early although they continue to provide a great deal of pleasure.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

The winter of 1999 was mild, with just about average rainfall.  This was also a warm year, making for early phenolic maturity.  Summer precipitation was close to average, and showers were spread out evenly. September was warm and wet.

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. On the whole, rainfall was fairly regular this year. However, the high temperatures caused significant evaporation, despite the lack of any one extremely dry period. Moderately strong water stress set in starting in early September.

GROWING SEASON

The 1999 growing season was largely in keeping with average weather conditions since 1996. Mid-véraison occurred on the 2rd of August for Merlot and the 8th of August for Cabernet Franc. There was little discrepancy between different plots of the same grape variety. Véraison took place very quickly, presaging homogeneous ripening.   Vegetative growth stopped late in the season.  Merlot was picked between the 14th and 21st of September, and mostly before rain on the 19th of September.  It was Cabernet Franc's turn from the 22nd to the 28th of September.

Phenological stage Merlot
1999
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
1999
Average
1994-2014
Bud break March, 28th March, 28th April, 1st April, 2nd
Flowering May, 29th May, 30th May, 31st June, 1st
Véraison August, 2nd August, 2nd August, 8th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 14th September, 19th September, 22nd September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 21st September, 27th September, 28th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 63 days 63 days 61 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 66 days 64 days 70 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 44 days 48 days 46 days 50 days

 

The grapes were in remarkably good condition despite the rain during the harvest. In fact, the Merlot looked in better shape than any vintage since 1989. Cabernet Franc grapes were also fine, but the ones picked at the tail end of the harvest were not totally satisfactory, so careful sorting was necessary.

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

Despite a fairly wet summer, the potential was very good.  The concentration of phenolic compounds was high, especially in light of the astonishingly light weight of the berries when one considers the minimal water stress during summer. The balance between sugar and acidity in Merlot was very interesting. Some of the Cabernet Franc was not entirely ripe, with relatively low sugar levels, but showed no trace of herbaceousness.
Yields were largely above average.

1999 yields    (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 53.0 38.9
Cabernet franc 51.4 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

With 8% of the wine bled off fermentation vats 1999 Petit Cheval contains no press wine. 

 

BLENDING

1999 shows a beautiful synergy between concentrated, but slightly austere Merlot and elegant, very aromatic Cabernet Franc, which represents the highest proportion of the blending (61%).

> Zoom plots

Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.25
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.46
pH 3.46
Total SO2 (mg/L) 78
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.0
IPT (DO280) -

 

TASTING NOTES

This vintage of Petit Cheval is a great pleasure to drink.

It has a deep cherry-red colour and is just starting to brick on the rim.

The nose features aromas of red fruit and stone fruit, as well as menthol and spice (clove) nuances. The oak is quite understated.

The wine starts out very vinous and fresh on the palate. It has a firm tannic texture and a wide range of flavours, especially red fruit.

This wine is presently at its peak, although it can still be kept for several years.