Pierre-Olivier Clouet

2002 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

This was a cool, wet, and not very sunny year. Yields were low. The wines show average concentration. They are full-bodied with crunchy black fruit and are early-maturing​.



The four first months of 2002 were mild and fairly dry.  After a clement start to the month of May, the weather deteriorated during the last ten days of the month when a cool, wet period set in, which lasted until the 10th of June.  July, August, and September were cool, with above-average rainfall in August. Dry weather returned in September. There was less sunshine than usual from May to the end of August.


In order to grow well, the vine needs for water stress to set in slowly so the grapes to ripen well and become concentrated. The 2002 growing season was clearly challenging, with cool weather and above-average precipitation from May to August. Due to showers in August, water stress was relatively weak.


Several phenomena had a major influence on the 2002 growth cycle.  Although bud break was early (24th of March for Merlot and the 28th of that month for Cabernet Franc), flowering took place during the first week of June. This had been disturbed by cool, wet weather in late May and early June that caused coulure and millerandage, especially in Merlot. This obviously has an effect on the size of the crop, and explains the very low yields: just 23 hectolitres per hectare. Mid-flowering was also slightly delayed. This took place on the 9th of August for Merlot and one day later for Cabernet Franc. The cool, wet weather in August raised fears about quality. Fortunately, however, dry weather returned in September and saved the day.  
The harvest was a little later than usual due to the cool temperatures. It lasted from the 20th of September to the 8th of October.

Phenological stage Merlot
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
Bud break March, 24th March, 28th March, 28th 2 avril
Flowering June, 2nd May, 30th June, 2nd June, 1st
Véraison August, 9th August, 2nd August, 10th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 20th September, 19th October, 1st September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 26th September, 27th October, 8th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 71 days 63 days 67 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 69 days 64 days 70 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 42 days 48 days 52 days 50 days


There were instances of grey rot in Merlot, but much less so in Cabernet Franc. The dry weather in September stopped the rot from spreading to any great degree.  Rigorous sorting meant that only grapes in good condition were retained.




2002 produced low yields – the smallest crop since 1991. Quality was satisfactory for Merlot and fairly good for Cabernet Franc, which took advantage of the beautiful month of September.  Despite the low yields, selection was draconian:  only 40% of the crop went into the grand vin.

2002 yields   (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 29.3 38.9
Cabernet Franc 24.1 34.2



Including 4% press wine, 2002 Cheval Blanc was aged in 100% new oak barrels. 



> Zoom plots


Date of bottling : April 15th, 2004.

Degree of alcohol 13
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.3
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.64
pH 3.59
Total SO2 (mg/L) 92
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.1
IPT (DO280) -


2002 Cheval Blanc is a vintage well worth (re)discovering. It has developed elegantly and is a nice surprise 



This vintage has aged elegantly and features surprising complexity and intensity. It is definitely a wine to discover or rediscover.

The colour is brilliant, dark, and medium-deep.

The nose is rather closed at present, but very pure. It shows plenty of fruit and a touch of liquorice with aeration. Blackcurrant, blackberry, and blueberry notes exist alongside smoky nuances from oak ageing. The wine has developed considerable class over time and the bouquet is ethereal, floral, complex, and intense.

The wine starts out quite round and rich on the palate. The smooth, silky texture complements its body and crunchy black fruit flavours. This vintage is strongly marked by polished tannin and beautiful balance. The elegant, long aftertaste reveals hints of liquorice.

However, it is difficult to know exactly how this vintage will develop over time. In fact, 2002 Cheval Blanc is a true surprise, and somewhat of a question mark at this stage. It is complex, intense, and refined.