Pierre-Olivier Clouet

1978 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

This was a cool year with dry weather at the end of the growing season. 1978 Cheval Blanc is an exceptional wine in a vintage that was only average overall in Bordeaux. The wine is fairly Burgundian in style: complex, delicate, and at its peak today.



Temperatures were lower than average in 1978. There were a few showers in early summer.  A much-appreciated dry spell set in starting in August and lasted until the harvest.


In order to grow well, the vine needs for water stress to set in slowly so the grapes to ripen well and become concentrated.  Water stress was moderate and occurred relatively late in the season, in July.



The growth cycle was also behind due to low temperatures.  Furthermore, there was a serious attack of mildew in spring.  However, a beautiful Indian summer and superb weather during the harvest saved the vintage.  Picking lasted from the 9th to the 18th of October.  Many Bordeaux wines from this vintage are somewhat hard and unyieldsing, but Cheval Blanc's early-maturing microclimate was conducive to complete ripeness. Yields were low: 26.5 hectolitres per hectare.

  Begin End
1978 harvest dates October, 9th  October, 18th
Average harvest dates: 1946-2014 September, 24th October, 8th


1978 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield (1946 to 2014)
26.5 33.9


Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.33
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.49
pH -
Total SO2 (mg/L) 73
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.5
IPT (DO280) -



This may have been only an average year in general in Bordeaux, but 1978 Cheval Blanc is an outstanding success.

The colour is beautifully deep, the perfect reflection of the finest wines from this vintage.

The nose is tremendously elegant. Both ethereal and powerful, it displays nuances of truffle and game, as well as mint and toasted, roasted aromas. Thanks to a remarkable balance between acidity and concentration, this vintage of Cheval Blanc has a pronounced mineral component.

It is fresh and vivacious on the palate, with exceptional power and volume. The finish is impressively long and refined. Rich and concentrated, it has hints of chocolate, but never departs from its intrinsic freshness.

The 1978 is in a good place now, but it can hold and develop for many years.