Pierre-Olivier Clouet

1971 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

1971 was a late-ripening year as well as a very wet one, especially during flowering. This led to very low yields. However, a magnificent Indian summer saved the vintage. 1971 Cheval Blanc is surprisingly round and seemingly sweet. It is one of the finest successes of the decade​.



The beginning of the growing season was difficult in 1971, with a great deal of rain. July was rainy and warm, which gave rise to a vigorous attack by vine diseases. Fine weather in August and September nevertheless saved the vintage.


In order to grow well, the vine needs for water stress to set in slowly so the grapes to ripen well and become concentrated. Due to rainfall all year long, there was practically no water deficit in 1971.



The harvest was fairly late, lasting from the 30th of September to the 11th of October.  The poor weather conditions during flowering caused a significant amount of coulure.  Unsurprisingly, the crop was therefore small, with yields of just 18 hectolitres per hectare. This meant that 1971 Cheval Blanc was very concentrated.  Cheval Blanc can be said to have produced the best wine in Bordeaux in this vintage which was somehow overlooked and forgotten, although it is excellent on the Right Bank.

  Begin End
1971 harvest dates September, 30th October, 11th
Average harvest dates: 1946-2014 September, 24th October, 8th


1971 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield (1946 to 2014)
18.5 33.9


Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 2.85
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.55
pH 3.8
Free SO2 (mg/L) 3
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.7
IPT (DO280) 46



Along with 1978, this is one of Cheval Blanc's greatest successes in the 1970s. It is a round wine with a lovely impression of sweetness.

1971 Cheval Blanc is a beautiful deep red with brick-coloured tinges. This colour has remained quite brilliant and features magnificent russet highlights.

The extremely elegant bouquet is immediately intense and complex, showing vivacious hints of Virginia tobacco, grapefruit, mint, and gingerbread. Blackcurrant and wild strawberry aromas then come to the fore with incredible concentration. The nose is tremendously seductive.

The wine is also superb on the palate: silky, very rich, and slightly spicy. It has always featured a gorgeous combination of fruit flavours, more reminiscent of peach at this stage than the candied orange of its youth. The hints of cinnamon are well-integrated, among other tertiary notes such as macerated prunes and greengage. The wine melts in the mouth, and the velvety aftertaste is immensely long.

This legendary wine is prodigiously round and as seductive as can be. It is at its peak and a joy to drink at the present time.