“Deux Chevaux!” I am not referring to the fabulously economic French car, Citroen 2CV (deus-chevaux-vapeur), but two famous wines from two different hemispheres, and owned by the same people, P.Lurton et fils y LVMH socios. In the northern hemisphere we have famous Chateau Cheval Blanc producing great Saint-Emilion since 1832. And in the southern hemisphere we have Cheval des Andes growing Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit-Verdot in Mendoza, since 1999. Last night I was treated to six vintages, in the presence of winemaker Gerald Gabillet, of the Cheval des Andes, 2014/15/16/17/18 & 2019. Followed by dinner and a single bottle of very young 2019 Ch.Cheval Blanc. I have followed both properties now for a while and am thrilled and amazed at the transformation of the French-Argentine-French rouge/tinto. So today we will focus only on both of the 2019s, from north & south.
The 2019 Cheval des Andes had a more reductive vinification and élevage, making the wine a bit shy and in need of time to open up, as one of the objectives was to make it more age-worthy. Another objective is to get closer to a 50/50 blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon, which they achieved in this vintage for the first time, going back to the initial character of the wine that was the idea of Argentinean winemaker Roberto de la Mota. So going back to their initial idea, and with more help from the Cheval Blanc team. This is the first vintage fully under the charge of their new French winemaker, Gerald Gabillet, who fermented by plot, isolating some specific parts of the vineyard, like the borders where you tend to get higher yields because of the irrigation. It was matured in 225ltr and 400ltr oak barrels and in voudres. They used barrels and vats from Stockinger, which they like a lot and rotate; the wine spends an average of 13 to 14 months in oak, but some lots get 11 months and others get 16. 2019 was a mild vintage, in Mendoza, cooler than 2017 and warmer than 2018, with rain at the right time, which helped to avoid hydric stress, and without extremes (which they had in 2020 with three weeks of extreme heat). The wine is young and tender and a little bit oaky, which Gerald attributed to the reductiveness; it’s ripe without excess, with around 14.2% alcohol, mellow acidity and velvety tannins. There is more % Cabernet Sauvignon here, so the aromatic expression can be something between 2017 and 2018, but the Cabernet Sauvignon marks the palate a lot and makes the wine more age-worthy, as it provides the structure and length that the Malbec lacks. So, the wine might be less accessible when young and should develop slowly in bottle. It is very very tasty now, supple and has the ingredients and the balance for what they are aiming for. In the following vintages, they will follow this path, and Gabillet feels that having more precision allows the wines to reflect the differences between vintages. They produce around 100,000 bottles. The 2019 was bottled in late January 2021. The way they want to describe this wine is the Argentinean expression of Cheval Blanc. Very good indeed!
A little note on the 2014 Cheval des Andes from “a fresh and humid year, the coldest since 2001.” As the late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon suffered more, the Cheval des Andes blend is unusually heavy on Malbec and the quantity produced was low. Gerald mentioned that the 2014 was reserved their clients in the Western Hemisphere while the 2015, from another humid but warmer growing season, will be sold mostly in Europe. Two thousand sixteen was the third consecutive humid year, and much cooler than 2015, with the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon again suffering.
The 2019 Ch.Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion was quintessentially Cheval and will take decades to come around, 2050!? Super introspective nose of blackberry, cassis, cedar and tobacco. As you can imagine the palate was lean, elegant, mysteriously perfect and fresh. “I love my Cheval Blanc young, there isn´t really another option” W.P.H.
To give you an idea of what is available ‘Under Bond‘ from us today ex LCB VT:
12 bottles (75cl) 2019 Ch.Cheval Blanc @ GB£595 per bottle ex taxes/shipping
60 bottles (75cl) 2019 Cheval de Andes @ GB£75 per bottle ex taxes/shipping
Both wines have just been given the famous 100/100pts.
‘Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Merry Christmas y Felix dies Nativaitatis!’
Back with you in January 2023 for more wine news, wine offers, wine stories and more vinous-humbug. Thank you for reading!