Cheval des Andes 2016
In the late 1990s Pierre Lurton, the president of Château Cheval Blanc, was in search of pristine Malbec vines. Finding these vines was a form of connecting to the origins of Bordeaux. For context, the majority of France’s Malbec was almost eradicated by the devastating outbreak of phylloxera in the 1860s. Fortunately, many of these plantings were saved because of a practice called, “grafting,” but the identity of this grape would be forever changed. Because of this, Pierre Lurton set his sights on Argentina – the one country home to a sea of ungrafted and unaltered Malbec vines. After discovering the Malbec vineyard Las Compuetras at the foot of the Andes Mountain range, Pierre knew he had stumbled upon something extraordinary. Cheval des Andes is the result of a joint venture between Château Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de Los Andes. The wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot that captures the intensity of Argentinian terroir mixed with Bordeaux viticultural techniques.
Though Cheval des Andes has achieved the milestone of its 20th vintage, the estate’s history is a long one. In the 1850s, the French transported plantings of Malbec vines from Bordeaux to Argentina and these cuttings thrived in the country’s warmer temperatures and extreme terroir. The cuttings of Malbec were spared from the French phylloxera outbreak at the turn of the century that nearly eradicated the majority of the Malbec vines in Bordeaux. The Las Compuetras vineyard was one particular property in the prestigious Luján de Cuyo region that would be planted with old vine Malbec in 1929. Seventy years later, it would be these vines that would capture Pierre Lurton’s attention, inspiring him with the idea of creating a wine that would uncover the origins of Bordeaux.
The name, “Las Compuetras” means, “The Floodgates,” which is an homage to the irrigation methods used by the Incan people who were indigenous to this region. They would typically use snowpack to water the vines from the Andes Mountain range. Interestingly enough, this method drowned phylloxera pests, which very well may be the reason why the majority of old vine Malbec were spared from the devastating outbreak that affected the rest of the world. The team at Cheval des Andes has refined this practice, collecting the snowpack from the Andes Mountain in snow reservoirs and then using it to irrigate the vines at this "Grand Cru" vineyard at the base of the Andes Mountains. They ensure that each parcel is planted in perfectly compatible terroir, and harvest at the optimum date to ensure freshness. The Petit Verdot is imported directly from Château Margaux prior to being added to the final blend depending on the vintage.
The Cheval Blanc team started a biodiversity project on the property, ensuring that local birds and bees are attracted to their vineyards. After the vines are harvested by hand, they implement the vinification process, ensuring the final blend is nothings short of perfection. Cheval des Andes favors elegance and restraint over power and bold fruit, making it a stylistically unique wine from Argentina and a leader from the region.
"The new vintage to be released in September 2019 is the 2016 Cheval des Andes, which was cropped from a completely unusual year—cooler than the average and with an exceptional amount of rain (around 600 liters), yet the wine has achieved exceptional freshness. It's 13.9% alcohol, and there's more red fruit on the nose, which is subtle and elegant, a little closed at first, shy and subtle. They have done great adjustments in the élevage, with the wine matured in 30% to 40% 400-liter barrels and only some 40% new wood. It's 58% Malbec (approximately 50/50 from Luján and Valle de Uco, where they have 15 hectares in Altamira), 37% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. This has less structure than the 2015, but there's more tension; this is a wine that should develop beautifully in bottle. This is a vintage of precision and with great aging potential. I think this wine is the most elegant produced so far. Bravo! 64,000 bottles produced." - Luis Gutiérrez, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (8/30/2019, Issue 244), Ratings: 97+, Drink: 2020-2036
|Stock Status||In Stock|
|Brand||Château Cheval Blanc|