The second vintage of this wine we have worked with made by the same team at Cheval Blanc, Cheval des Andes, is sharpening their skills and getting better with every vintage. In the early days of this project, the team from Cheval Blanc made the wine but did not control the vineyards. They also purchased grapes that went into previous vintages. Today they are only using 100% estate fruit, converting to organic farming, and are cutting yields. The wines see a long cold fermentation using only native yeasts and about 40% new oak in several different sized barrels, including several 400 liters with each plot vinified separately. Omitting the Petit Verdot for the 2017 vintage, the blend is 62% Malbec and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon. Powerful and elegant Cheval des Andes is one of Argentina's best wines and is a world-class and elegant example of a Malbec dominant blend. A brilliant bottle with early approach appeal and the structure to age over a decade.
James Suckling 100 points! "This is the greatest Cheval des Andes ever. Discrete aromas of blackberries, flowers, stone and licorice. So perfumed. The integration of fruit, tannins and acidity is fantastic. Full-bodied, tight and solid with beautiful depth and integrity. Extremely long and exciting. Complex and compelling with such refinement and length. A blend of 62% malbec and 38% cabernet sauvignon. Available in September 2020. Better after 2024."
Wine Advocate (Luis Guttierez) 97+ points! "In the last few years, a handful of wines from Chile and Argentina—often French owned—have been released in September through the Place de Bordeaux, the network of négociants that sell most of the Bordeaux wines and some of the leading wines from other regions. The 2017 Cheval des Andes is one such wine. 2017 saw an early harvest, but they started picking on the 6th of March and continued until the 10th of April, more or less normal dates, early but not so much. The varietal break down this vintage comes to 62% Malbec and 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and the wine is slightly riper and higher in alcohol than 2016 (this 2017 is 14.2% alcohol). The different plots fermented separately with selected yeasts, and the élevage lasted for 15 months and was in 50/50 new and second use barrels, 90% of them French and the rest made with wood from Eastern Europe. They used 45% Bordeaux barrels, 45% 400-liter barrels and, for the first time, a 2,500-liter oak foudre. This is clearly the darkest of the trio of vintages I tasted together here—2015, 2016 and 2017—but all three have the elegant and powerful profile, the luxurious and creamy character found in the best Bordeaux wines in the last few years, wines of power with precision, concentration, energy and finesse. This seems to combine the clout of the 2015 and the freshness of the 2016 and feels something in between those two vintages. Their work in the vineyard toward the maturity of the tannins meant the challenge in 2017 was to not let the grapes ripen too fast and too early. The work is different for Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, to get round tannins in Cabernet and get some tension in Malbec, the contrary of the normal tendency of the varieties. 2017 has less ripeness than the 2015 but more density than the 2016. The texture is velvety, precise and harmonious. This year, they introduced a larger foudre for 10% of the wine, with the aim to reach 20%, so that volume is increasing every year. I think this is showing more precision, and in a more challenging year, they managed to keep the quality on par with 2016. They have changed the label this year, to a cleaner and more elegant label that also reflects the direction the wine is going in. 81,500 bottles produced. It was bottled in January 2019."