If Cheval Blanc were ever to change its vocation, the Château would surely become a premium fashion house; after all, it has all the requirements. First, there are the exceptional raw materials: grapes that have been nourished by the same mosaic of ideal plots that has not changed since 1871, but within which 44 plots stand out for their ideal exposure, soil composition and grape variety.
To ensure that each micro-plot achieves its full potential, they have all been individually studied and their care adapted accordingly. The quality of this terroir is such that every plot produces grapes that are fit for inclusion in the estate's top wine. Next, the equivalent of a fashion house's "sewing workshops" are assembled in the winery, which has been specifically designed to vinify grapes culled from 45 plots ranging from 0.2ha to 1.5ha in size. Their mission is to showcase the structure and the raw material of Cheval Blanc. Precision is the watchword here, with 100% indigenous yeasts and minimal intervention used to achieve it. The result is wines that are truly made to measure.
This year, the "vine artisans" have adopted a policy of environmentally friendly agriculture, with the aim of creating a farm at Cheval Blanc that is truly alive. Understanding that monoculture impoverishes the whole ecosystem, they have installed 900 fruit trees, a kitchen garden, 35 ewes and some chickens, all of which cohabit harmoniously with the vineyards.
What makes Cheval Blanc unique is the beauty of its Cabernet Francs - a variety that is, proportionally, more important than Merlot. For 20 years, the Cabernet Francs have been carefully selected to ensure that replanting gives the best possible results.
Since the summer, Pierre-Olivier Clouet has had a sole obsession: "Doing everything possible to conserve freshness"; to this end, he started harvesting early. Because he was "impressed by their uniformity", he directed that the Merlots be brought in between 10th and 19th September, followed by the Cabernets. He calls this "a spectacular vintage" that was "sunny" and "hot" with the allure of an "elegant and sensual woman".