1986 was a cool and dry year conducive to excellent Cabernet grapes. The vintage benefited from optimum conditions for the slow and complete ripening Cheval Blanc always looks for. Despite high yields, 1986 Cheval Blanc has fantastic aromatic intensity and has aged remarkably well.



After a cold, very wet month of April, the summer of 1986 was dry. Temperatures were close to seasonal averages from May up to the end of September.


Limited rainfall from May to September also brought about considerable water stress that was beneficial to quality.



Cool weather in April slightly delayed the start of the growing season, and this time lag lasted all summer.  Therefore, the harvest took place quite late.  The first plot of Merlot was picked on the 1st of October, and the last grapes were brought in on the 18th of that month under a clear blue sky.   The crop was large and most of the fermentation vats had to be used twice.  Therefore, the vatting period was short, especially for Merlot.

  Merlot Cabernet franc
  Begin End Begin End
1986 harvest dates October, 1st October, 6th October, 6th October, 18th
Average harvest dates (1986-2014) September, 19th September, 27th September, 27th October, 5th


1986 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield (1946 to 2014)
60.7 33.9


Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.14
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.58
pH -
Total SO2 (mg/L) 112
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.2
IPT (DO280) -



The 1986 vintage is atypical due to the high proportion of Cabernet Franc, which accounts for this variety's two hallmarks: remarkably elegant aromatic intensity and considerable ageing potential.

The medium deep colour is showing some bricking in keeping with its age.

The intense, complex nose expresses all the refinement of Cabernet Franc, showing hints of ink, fruit in brandy, and mint. With aeration, the bouquet displays overtones of Virginia tobacco and cedar. However, the overriding olfactory component is blackberry.

The wine starts off quite smooth and soft on the palate. The tannin is soft, ethereal, and extremely elegant. The aromatic profile is huge, encompassing Morello cherry jam and leather. Wonderfully fresh and with obvious finesse, the long aftertaste is reminiscent of caramel.

1986 Cheval Blanc is a great wine at its peak, but will easily stay on its plateau for several more years.