2010 is an outstanding vintage. It was among the driest on record and cool evenings made it possible to pick grapes at optimum ripeness. The resulting Petit Cheval combines richness and finesse, and is perfectly balanced​.

WEATHER CONDITIONS AND VINE’S GROWING CYCLE

TEMPERATURES AND RAINFALL

2010 was a very dry year, especially during the growing season. Winter was mild with average rainfall. Every month from April to the end of September had lower-than-average precipitation, except for June, when it rained slightly more than usual. Temperatures were close to the thirty year average, but lower than the fifteen-year one. 2010 can thus be considered a dry and relatively cool year.  The weather was good during the harvest: cool, especially at night, and dry in late September, then mild with a few showers in the first two weeks 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. The lack of rain made for significant water stress in 2010. The water balance up until the 30th of September showed this to be the second driest year in half a century: only 2005 was drier. However, the vines did not react badly to this situation: on the one hand, because it occurred gradually and, on the one hand, because evaporation was not very great.

GROWING SEASON

ud break was observed on the 8th of April for Merlot and the 13th of that month for Cabernet Franc. This was 10 days later than the usual dates. However, the vines made up for the delay by the time flowering occurred. Véraison took place in the first week of August, quite close to the average date. The first plots of Merlot were picked on the 20th of September, and Cabernet Franc was harvested between the 29th of September and the 14th of October. In order to pick each plot at the ideal moment, the harvest was spread out over 25 days.  This was the longest ever recorded at Cheval Blanc.
The dry weather meant that vine diseases were only a minor issue.  The major water stress slowed down vegetative growth – an essential factor for a great vintage. The weight of the berries was historically low, close to that in 2005 and a sure sign of concentration. The grapes were picked in fine, nearly perfect condition. A stable period of beautiful weather during the harvest meant that grapes in every part of the vineyard were fully ripe.  The cool nights in September retained freshness and intrinsic aromatic expression.

Phenological stage  Merlot
2010
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
2010
Average
1994-2014
Bud break  April, 8th March, 28th April, 13th April, 2nd
Flowering June, 1st May, 30th June, 5th June, 1st
Véraison August, 3rd August, 2nd August, 9th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 20th September, 19th September, 29th September, 27th
End of the Harvest October, 2nd September, 27th October, 14th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 54 days 63 days 53 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 63 days 64 days 65 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 48 days 48 days 51 days 50 days

 

FEATURES OF THE VINTAGE

RIPENING AND YIELDS

Water stress was definitely a factor in concentration, but seeing as this occurred incrementally, the vines did not suffer unduly. The berries weighed very little, which accounted for lower-than-average yields. 2010 was not a warm year, and the wines are very fresh and remarkably aromatic. The combination of these three factors resulted in a great vintage.

2010 yields   (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 28.9 38.9
Cabernet Franc 30.3 34.2

 

CELLAR WORK

Cheval Blanc practised almost no saignées (bleeding from fermentation vats) or chaptalisation for its second wine in 2010.  
2010 Petit Cheval contains 15% press wine and was entirely aged in new oak barrels for 15 months. 
Traditional fining with egg white was done in order to settle particles in suspension in barrel. Two egg whites per barrel were used. These were later eliminated by filtration.

 

BLENDING

The blend reflects a harmonious equilibrium between Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

> Zoom plots

 

Date of bottling : June 27th, 2012.

 

Degree of alcohol 14. 5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.0
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.36
pH 3.78
Total SO2 (mg/L) 94
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.9
IPT (DO280) 84

 

TASTING NOTES

Petit Cheval 2010 is a magnificent second wine with perfect structure and balance, as well as extremely intense fruit flavours.

The beautiful ruby-red colour is deep and intense.

The first impression on the nose is of ripe red fruit (cherry, and blackcurrant), giving way to fresh, aromatic hints of mint, rose petals and violet. A chocolate nuance appears with aeration.

The wine starts off very powerful, full-bodied, and velvety on the palate. It is also quite concentrated, with ripe red fruit flavours. The texture is very polished and the middle palate features rich, round tannin enveloped by freshness. The very long aftertaste trails off imperceptibly.

This outstanding second wine is worthy of Cheval Blanc in terms of quality and purity.