Cheval Des Andes

The Cheval Des Andes collaboration came to be as the result of one French winemaker’s voyage to the other side of the world and a glass of impressive Argentinean wine. Visiting Argentina in the 1990s, Pierre Lurton, President of Château Cheval Blanc, legendary Premier Grand Cru Classé A of Saint-Émilion, found himself on the sloping plains of the majestic Andes mountains at the Terrazas De Los Andes vineyards.

Cheval Blanc’s reconnection with its past was consummated in 1999 during this visit through the selection of the most highly treasured, high elevation terroir in Argentina: Terrazas De Los Andes’ 80 year-old Las Compuertas vineyard in Vistalba, Mendoza. Upon tasting their Malbec, Pierre was captivated by the quality of the wine being produced in this breathtaking yet seemingly inhospitable location and was intrigued by the notion of unearthing a connection with Saint-Émilion’s past. Devistated by phylloxera in the 1860s, Malbec lost its position as the one of the most important grape varieties in Saint-Émilion and Pomerol, but had since been reincarnated in ungrafted form in Argentina where it was producing some of the world’s best examples of its type. With this renaissance in Argentina emerged an ambitious vision to forge a new path in international winemaking.

Cheval Des Andes is the first fusion of the Premier Grand Cru Classé A of Saint-Émilion, Cheval Blanc, with its skillfulness and savoir-faire, and Terrazas De Los Andes, with the best Argentinian high-altitude terroir and its expertise in producing Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. The philosophy of successive harvests directly addresses the synergy born as a driving idea to bring together the art of assemblage, the experience of the old world, and the creativity, vitality and innovation of the new world in one wine.

The winemaking team at Cheval Des Andes personifies the expression of savoir-faire, demonstrating the ultimate expertise that comes with instinctive knowledge. Using their intuitive senses on a daily basis, they define the quality, style and evolution of the wines and vineyards. Whether French or Argentinian, they are united by their craft and their thorough understanding of high altitude winemaking. Cheval Des Andes is the result of what happens when passion and savoir-faire converge. Both are as fundamental to winemaking as the vines themselves.

Situated in the Andes, more than a thousand metres above sea level, the vineyard is located in the Las Compuertas district, right at the heart of Vistalba, one of the most distinguished areas in Mendoza. The vineyards are watered by a traditional irrigation system: the natural meltwater from the Andes mountain range runs through small furrows that cover the total surface of grapevines with pure water rich in minerals. The historic vineyards extended over 50 hectares also reflect the long-lasting commitment to the environment. They are organic by nature. The soil is sandy-loam with stones providing good drainage, encouraging deep root growth and ensuring greater balance, durability and site expression. Average temperatures in this great terroir couldn’t be more beneficial to the grapes, with warm daytime temperatures contrasted by fresh, crisp thermometer drops after-dark, thanks to the breezes coming down from the hills at night.

Cheval Des Andes practices the French art of assemblage in its winemaking as the five varieties - Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot - are matched, blended, and cajoled to play off each other’s true natures in the hands of esteemed and impassioned winemakers. All of these factors are essential to make Cheval des Andes the most expressive and refined ‘Grand Cru of the Andes’.

Each variety plays a key role in the art of assemblage, contributing unique characteristics expressed in a single wine: Cheval des Andes. The elegant Malbec provides fruit, especially red fruit such as plum and cherries, and violet notes. It also adds roundness and sucrosity with very elegant fine tannins. It is graceful and distinctive. Cabernet Sauvignon delivers structure, firm tannins, and complexity, with a spicy profile filled with green and black pepper, and redcurrant and blackcurrant notes. Merlot exhibits notes of black fruits such as blackberries, blackcurrants or black cherries, accompanied by sweet, spicy nuances. Full-bodied, with soft tannins and a fleshy palate. Petit Verdot is a variety that easily adapts to different conditions. Wines obtained from this variety have a beautiful deep colour, and plum, cherry and raspberry fruit notes. It adds acidity and a vegetal touch. Cabernet Franc offers structured and fruity wines with intense colour and notes of raspberries and violets.

The art of assemblage at Cheval Des Andes blend plays with the complexity of the place, the terroir, and several grapes varieties in order to highlight their synergy through blending. The different grape varieties are hand-harvested in the cool hours of the morning. Bunches and berries are thoroughly sorted at the winery and the fermentation tanks are filled using gravity. Alcoholic fermentation is followed by a gentle and prolonged maceration lasting 30 days on average, combining pumping-over and delestage. The individual grape varieties undergo 6 months of ageing in French oak barrels before being blended and spending a further 12 months in 30 to 60% of new barrels, except for part of Malbec which uses second fill barrels to obtain more fruit and freshness. The final blend is then aged in new French oak barrels for 6 more months. Regular racking takes place to ensure clarity and brightness without filtering. The wine is then bottled and aged for at least 18 months longer.

The sustainable production system includes the rational use of natural resources, eliminating synthesic products. Cultivation work is focussed upon the best balance of plants and soil, preserving the existing ecosystem. The philosophy of the art of assemblage is expressed through the 5 grape varieties planted in the terroir that offers the optimum conditions within the precious vineyards. In addition to such amazing growing conditions, the oenologists use all of their skill and experience to bring out the most elegant and refined expression of their grape varieties.
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