Le Petit Cheval 2018
Tasting Notes Le Petit Cheval 2018
This year, this is truly a baby Cheval, right in line with the grand vin, commented Technical Director Pierre-Olivier Couet. Ten percent of the total production this year went into this second label of Cheval Blanc. Composed of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2018 Le Petit Cheval needs a lot of coaxing to encourage subtle nuances of crushed rocks, fallen leaves, potpourri and fertile loam to emerge before giving way to fragrant notes of warm blueberries, black raspberries, kirsch and unsmoked cigars with a touch of Marmite toast. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers layers of fresh, crunchy black fruits and loads of earthy sparks, framed by soft, velvety tannins and just enough freshness, finishing long.
This shows beautiful density of fruit, but the tannins arrive at the end and show impressive length and density. Full body. Wild fruit. Excellent second wine from Cheval.
Juicy, precise and elegant, this is also extremely well balanced. It has soft black fruits, liquorice and gently smoked cedar. The sensation of density is almost hidden at first but in terms of numbers, the tannins are the highest since 2011. Through the palate the sensation increases to a soft two-point jab between tannins and fruit. Picked 11 September to 11 October. Fewer young plots are in the wine this year as the dryness of the summer meant some blockages, so they sold off 16% in bulk, with just 10% going into Petit Cheval (from five diverse plots of clay, gravel and sand).
The 2018 Petit Cheval represents 10% of the estate's production and is taken from a collection of five parcels that span all of the three main soil types of the property: sand, gravel and clay, all of which were, incidentally, in the Grand Vin in 2016. A wine of remarkable harmony and class, the 2018 Petit Cheval possesses striking textural depth and nuance. Succulent black cherry, mocha, grilled herb, licorice and menthol build in a voluptuous, racy Petit Cheval that will drink well right out of the gate. The blend is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc.