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by Andrew Chalk

Cheval des Andes is a joint venture between storied Bordeaux Grand Cru Château Cheval Blanc and respected Argentine producer Terrazas de Los Andes, first created in 1999. The objective is to produce a Grand Cru of The Andes through Cheval Blanc’s extended experience producing wine at the global top level and Terrazas de Los Andes’ knowledge of Argentine terroir.

Cheval des Andes’ winemaker (specifically, Technical Manager and Winemaker, referring to his responsibility for both viticulture and winemaking) Gérald Gabillet visited town recently and hosted a tasting of two eras in the life of Cheval des Andes eponymous wine. Bear in mind that he arrived in 2017, so all of the tasted wines reflect the decisions of his predecessors.

The 2014 and 2015 represented the wine when young. The 2005 and 2007 the wine in its middle age. The results displayed huge changes over the space of a decade. Not just in the profile of the wine, but also in the grape composition and oenology that went in. Output was stable at 5,000 cases.

2005: Huge expansive nose of dark fruit and wood. In the mouth, soft, harmonious with a long finish. Blackcurrant, leather, and wood. Ready to drink but will keep a few more years.

80% new oak.

Malbec 60%, Cabernet Sauvignon 26%, Petit Verdot 7%, Merlot 7%;

2007:Not quite as opulent as the 2005 but with the same soft tannins and dark fruit. The Cabernet provides additional backbone and savoriness to the nose.

80% new oak.

Malbec 45%, Cabernet Sauvignon 45%, Petit Verdot 6%, Merlot 2%, Cabernet Franc 2%;

Commonalities of these two older wines are a beneficial ageing. Both have resolved to (likely) better wines than their younger selves. Both have proven their ability to age, which many tasters consider a leitmotif of a serious Bordeaux red wine.

2014: More fruit forward than its older siblings. Blackcurrants, fair amount of tannin.

35/45% new oak.

Malbec 83%, Cabernet Sauvignon 8%, Petit Verdot 9%;

2015: Big fruit, subtle oak effects. More structured than 2014. Gabillet gives it a life of 20-30 years. On this occasion it may have been served warmer than ideal, with less fresh fruit as a result.

35/45% new oak. 400L and 500L barrels for the first time.

Malbec 69%, Cabernet Sauvignon 31%;

Commonalities: The evidence on which grapes thrived the most was in by this decade so three Bordeaux grape varieties were dropped. The new ideal blend, according to Gabillet, is 50/50 Malbec/ Cabernet Sauvignon. Bad weather precluded that in 2014 when it asymmetrically decimated the Cabernet Sauvignon crop. Production of the wine fell 40%. By 2015, most of that deficit had been righted. Despite having come from a 20-year professional career on the Right Bank of Bordeaux, Gabillet is an empiricist and does not suffer “Merlot withdrawal”. He is now focusing on such things as freshness in the Malbec.

Based on these results, especially the impressive wines from the noughties, Cheval des Andes has a claim to be The Grand Cru of The Andes. However, the battle must continue as their are other strong pretenders, from both Argentina and Chile. We will taste again in about 50 years.

Cheval des Andes paid for my tasting.



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