Pierre-Olivier Clouet

1990 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

1990 was a hot, especially dry, and early-ripening year. The crop was perfectly ripe with very rich berries.  Both powerful and smooth, this very great vintage gives the impression of sweetness on the palate​.



1990 was a hot, dry year. The temperature taken over a year was 1.1° above average and the water deficit from April to September was 89 mm. There were 11 days in July with maximum temperatures of over 35°C, and closer to 40°C on some of them. There was also 29% more bright sunshine than average during the months of July, August, and September.


In order to grow well, the vine needs for water stress to set in slowly so the grapes to ripen well and become concentrated. There was a marked water deficit. 1990 was one of the driest vintages in 60 years.


The growing season got off to a record early start: bud break on about the 15th of March and flowering around the 25th of May.  A frost on the 27th of March caused little damage and was more compensated by the huge number of buds.   After relatively early véraison, ripening was very quick. The harvest was quite early, starting on the 11th of September and finishing on the 25th.  Only two vintages were harvested earlier in the twentieth century: 1945 and 1989.

  Merlot Cabernet franc
  Begin End Begin End
1990 harvest dates September, 11th September, 13th September, 19th September, 25th
Average harvest dates (1986-2014) September, 19th September, 27th September, 27th October, 5th




The grapes were perfectly ripe, very rich in sugar and phenolic compounds, and low in acidity.  
The alcoholic degree was 13.6° and many vats of Merlot exceeded 14°. 
There were all the makings of a very great vintage thanks to the excellent state of the fruit.  1990 was the first year when green harvesting was done at Cheval Blanc, which meant that yields were close to average despite the huge potential crop at the beginning of the season.

1990 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield (1946 to 2014)
40.2 33.9


Degree of alcohol 13.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.22
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.54
pH -
Total SO2 (mg/L) 116
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.8
IPT (DO280) -


1990 Cheval Blanc completes the fabulous 88-89-90 trilogy. It is irresistibly smooth and powerful



This is a great and irresistible vintage at Cheval Blanc.

The colour is deep and dark with brick-red highlights.

The complex and remarkably intense nose features aromas of truffle, candied fruit, quince jam, very ripe grapes and cocoa. Fresh scents of caramel and vanilla and a touch of black pepper appear with aeration, as well as a smoky leather, and forest floor notes. The bouquet is quite exotic, as well as both powerful and elegant.

The wine starts out very rich and assertive on the palate with flavours reminiscent of toast, coffee, caramel, and cocoa beans, as well as more musky components (leather and fur). The tannic structure is sturdy whereas the texture is rich, velvety, and extremely fine-grained. There is a touch of liquorice on the warm, tremendously long finish.

1990 Cheval Blanc is an outstanding success for the estate, the perfect counterpart to the very great 1989 vintage, and a wonderful way to complete the trilogy begun in 1988, which can only be compared to the mythical 1947-1948-1949 series. This is an irresistibly delicious wine that is presently at its peak, but which will stay there for many more years.