Cheval de Andes is the Argentinian project from Saint-Emilion’s Château Cheval Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes. It celebrates the old clones of Malbec that were once found in Bordeaux but live on in Argentina. Pierre Lurton – CEO of Cheval Blanc – was visiting Argentina in the late 1990s when he had the chance to purchase a plot of ungrafted Malbec planted in 1929, an opportunity to produce a wine that had its roots in Bordeaux but could no longer be made there. He decided to work with Roberto de la Mota – the winemaker behind Terrazas de los Andes – to craft world-class wines that would prove the quality possible in Argentina.
Before phylloxera, Malbec made up nearly 40% of vineyards in Bordeaux, but today it plays a minor role in the region. The Malbec clone that was originally planted in Bordeaux was exported to Argentina in 1852, however, and continues to be propagated in the region. It was the discovery of these vines that inspired Cheval des Andes.
Emphasis here is on work in the vineyard, with Cheval Blanc’s stringent attention to detail applied to their Argentinian venture. Historically, this precision wasn’t necessarily followed through in the winery, however from 2012, the winemaking team at Cheval Blanc have become more involved; working closely with Cheval des Andes Technical Director and Bordeaux native Gérald Gabillet and producing increasingly fine wines.
The wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot – made in Pierre Lurton’s words to be “an exotic wine with a Bordelais touch”.