Pierre-Olivier Clouet

2006 Vintage by Pierre-Olivier Clouet, Technical Director from Château Cheval Blanc

This warm and dry year was particularly favourable to Merlot. While it May not have the extraordinary concentration of 2005, 2006 Cheval Blanc is a rich, powerful wine with ripe fruit aromas​.



After a cold winter, the summer of 2006 was quite warm. Temperatures from April to September were 2.0°C above seasonal averages. July was especially hot (+4.3°C above the usual monthly average), while August was cooler than usual (-0.4°C). A heat wave in early September with temperatures of over 30°C lasted 8 days in a row. Rainfall was slightly less than average from April until the end of August.  The weather in 2006 was very favourable to vine development and ripening, except for the month of September, which was wet and mild.


A water deficit set in early. While not excessive, this was fairly strong and lasted until the 10th of September.  The resulting moderate water stress over a long period was unquestionably beneficial to quality. Showers in September nevertheless reduced the water deficit at the end of the growing season and caused some grapes to burst.


Bud break occurred the first week of April (on the 2nd for Merlot and the 6th for Cabernet Franc). Mid-flowering took place on the 30th of May for Merlot and on the 3rd of June for Cabernet Franc - dates very close to 2005. Mid-véraison was on the 31st of July for Merlot and the 7th of August for Cabernet Franc. 2006 is thus a relatively early-ripening year even though bud break was a little late compared to the 10-year average. Subsequent fine weather in summer made up for this. The harvest began early, on the 15th of September, and finished on the 28th of that month.

Phenological stage Merlot
Average 1994-2014 Cabernet franc
Bud break April, 2nd March, 28th April, 6th April, 2nd
Flowering May, 30th May, 30th June, 3rd June, 1st
Véraison July, 31st August, 2nd August, 7th August, 8th
Beginning of the Harvest September, 15th September, 19th September, 22th September, 27th
End of the Harvest September, 21sh September, 27th September, 28th October, 5th
Number of days between...
Bud break and Flowering 59 days 63 days 59 days 60 days
Flowering and Véraison 63 days 64 days 66 days 68 days
Véraison and Harvest 46 days 48 days 46 days 50 days


There were major attacks by oidium and mildew all year long and it was necessary to be very vigilant in 2006 to fight against them. The very mild, wet weather in September was unfortunately conducive to the spread of grey rot. However, thanks to sorting both before and after destemming (calling for a team of twenty people), any ruined grapes were totally weeded out.




The fruit was exceptionally ripe as of early September.  Average sugar levels (thus potential alcohol) for Merlot exceeded 14° on the 11th of September – which is fully comparable with 2005. Unfortunately, there was a certain amount of dilution due to rain in September. Small amounts of juice bled off from fermentation vats recreated the good ratio between pomace and juice that existed in early September.

2006 yields    (hl/ha) Average from 1996 to 2014
Merlot 43.3 38.9
Cabernet Franc 28.6 34.2



Maceration lasted from 19 to 26 days depending on the lot. 
2006 Cheval Blanc was not at all chaptalised. Approximately 8% of the juice was bled off, and the wine was aged in 100% new oak barrels for 16-17 months.



> Zoom plots


Date of bottling : April 7th, 2008.

Degree of alcohol 14
Total acidity (g H2 S04/L) 3.1
Volatile acidity (g H2 SO4/L) 0.59
pH 3.94
Total SO2 (mg/L) 106
Reducing sugar content (g/L) 1.7
IPT (DO280) 76


The outstanding quality of Merlot in 2006 explains the dominant impression of ripe fruit aromas 



The weather this year was very favourable to Merlot. This variety accounts for typical ripe red fruit aromas that marry marvellously with the aromatic finesse of ripe Cabernet Franc.

2006 Cheval Blanc has a powerful, attractive nose of ripe red fruit and Virginia tobacco, reflecting the benefits of barrel ageing.

The wine starts out full-bodied and rich, combining the smoothness of Merlot and the aromatic elegance of Cabernet Franc. Complementing its impressive fruitiness, the rich tannin and balance go into a wonderful long aftertaste.

While not attaining the exceptional concentration of 2005, 2006 Cheval Blanc is a rich, powerful, harmonious wine that will age for decades.