This was a cool, wet, and not very sunny year. Yields were low. 
This vintage of Petit Cheval is a classical one. Ethereal and with an attractive structure, it shows great balance and brilliant fruit.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

The four first months of 2002 were mild and fairly dry.  After a clement start to the month of May, the weather deteriorated during the last ten days of the month when a cool, wet period set in, which lasted until the 10th of June.  July, August, and September were cool, with above-average rainfall in August. Dry weather returned in September. There was less sunshine than usual from May to the end of August.

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 2002 growing season was clearly challenging, with cool weather and above-average precipitation from May to August. Due to showers in August, water stress was relatively weak.

GROWING SEASON

Several phenomena had a major influence on the 2002 growth cycle.  Although bud break was early (24th of March for Merlot and the 28th of that month for Cabernet Franc), flowering took place during the first week of June. This had been disturbed by cool, wet weather in late May and early June that caused coulure and millerandage, especially in Merlot. This obviously has an effect on the size of the crop, and explains the very low yields: just 23 hectolitres per hectare. Mid-flowering was also slightly delayed. This took place on the 9th of August for Merlot and one day later for Cabernet Franc. The cool, wet weather in August raised fears about quality. Fortunately, however, dry weather returned in September and saved the day.  
The harvest was a little later than usual due to the cool temperatures. It lasted from the 20th of September to the 8th of October.

Phenological stage Merlot
2002
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
2002
Average
1994-2014
Bud break March, 24th March, 28th March, 28th 2 avril
Flowering June, 2nd May, 30th June, 2nd June, 1st
Véraison August, 9th August, 2nd August, 10th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 20th September, 19th October, 1st September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 26th September, 27th October, 8th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 71 days 63 days 67 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 69 days 64 days 70 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 42 days 48 days 52 days 50 days

 

There were instances of grey rot in Merlot, but much less so in Cabernet Franc. The dry weather in September stopped the rot from spreading to any great degree.  Rigorous sorting meant that only grapes in good condition were retained.

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

2002 produced low yields – the smallest crop since 1991. Quality was satisfactory for Merlot and fairly good for Cabernet Franc, which took advantage of the beautiful month of September.  Despite the low yields, selection was draconian:  only 40% of the crop went into the grand vin.

2002 yields   (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 29.3 38.9
Cabernet Franc 24.1 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

2002 Petit Cheval contains 6% press wine. 

 

BLENDING

The final blend consists mostly of Cabernet Franc.

> Zoom plots

 

Date of bottling : April 13th, 2004.


Degree of alcohol 13
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.2
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.63
pH 3.59
Total SO2 (mg/L) 98
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.1
IPT (DO280) -

 

TASTING NOTES

This vintage of Petit Cheval is a classical one. Ethereal and with an attractive structure, it shows great balance and brilliant fruit. The final blend consists mostly of Cabernet Franc.

2002 Petit Cheval is classic and totally in keeping with the style sought by Château Cheval Blanc. It displays a perfect balance between structure, elegance, and fruitiness.

It has a lovely deep red colour.

Although the nose seems somewhat closed at first, it gradually opens up to reveal aromas of cherry, liquorice, and leather. The bouquet also has a fresh, mentholated quality and shows considerable oak.

The wine starts out very smooth on the palate, going on to reveal a lean, streamlined structure with great finesse. The tannic texture is tightly-knit, but the wine is perfectly balanced and ethereal, with a long, flavoursome aftertaste bursting with fruit.

2002 Petit Cheval is still very fresh and ageworthy.