Pierre-Olivier Clouet

1993 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

1993 was a cool, wet vintage, but a dry spell in July and August had a very salutary effect.  This was a Merlot year in which the wines were well-balanced, very aromatic, and showed good ageing potential​.



The three first months of the year were mild and exceptionally dry. The above-average temperatures continued on through April, May, and June, but these three months were also very wet, with twice the usual rainfall. July was cool, with average precipitation, whereas August was dry with temperatures in keeping with the seasonal norm. A period of beautiful weather In the middle of the month had a decisive effect on vintage quality. A slight water stress prevented the berries from swelling and brought vegetative growth to an abrupt halt.  September was cold (-1.8°C less than average) with heavy showers starting on the 9th.  The same type of weather continued into the first half of October.


A short period of water stress occurred in August, between the abundant rainfall in June and that in September.  This was definitely beneficial to quality.


The growing season started slightly ahead of schedule, with bud break in early April (2/4/93 at Cheval-Blanc), followed by mid-véraison in early August (6/8/93 for Merlot and 13/8/93 for Cabernet Franc). A wet month of June brought with it a major attack of mildew, and plant protection measures were absolutely necessary. The harvest started on the 20th of September for Merlot and the 27th of that month for Cabernet Franc. Picking drew to a close on the 5th of October.  Yields were relatively high.

  Merlot Cabernet franc
  Begin End Begin End
1993 harvest dates September, 20th September, 25th September, 25th October, 5th
Average harvest dates (1986-2014) September, 19th September, 27th September, 27th October, 5th




Despite September showers, the quality of the wine was fairly good.  The vintage potential was largely achieved after the first week of September and, due to low temperatures, it remained intact until picking. The fruit was in very good condition. Botrytis cinerea (grey rot) spreads when the thermometer rises above 15°C. As it so happened, the average temperature in the last ten days of September was only 13.9°C (as compared to 17°C in a "normal" year). The grapes did not weigh very much, which is a sign of concentration. The sugar levels were low and acidity was average, with little malic acid - a sign of the fruit's physiological ripeness.  There was also good phenolic concentration, especially in Merlot. Furthermore, the colouring matter was easily extracted, and the wine had a deep, dark hue.

1993 yield    (hl/ha) Average yield (1946 to 2014)
48.6 33.9



Degree of alcohol 12.5
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.65
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.68
pH 3.79
Total SO2 (mg/L) 116
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 0.6
IPT (DO280) 62


1993 Cheval Blanc is a great success for such a wet, difficult year



This was a cool, wet year saved by dry weather in July and August that concentrated the grapes, which ended up being sweet and aromatic. 1993 is a fine success at Cheval Blanc despite the challenging conditions.

The medium-deep colour shows clear signs of age.

The nose is rich, concentrated, and reminiscent of red fruit, prune, stone fruit, and vanilla. It also features some smoky notes and well-integrated oak. In addition, a menthol component confers a great deal of freshness.

This delicious wine starts out rich and round on the palate with plenty of tannin in what was more of a Merlot vintage at Cheval Blanc.

This 1993 is clearly a winner in a difficult year. Charming and attractive, it is best enjoyed now, at its peak.