Cheval des Andes 2014
The 2014 Cheval des Andes is a different blend than previous years and contains a high percentage of Malbec and more Petit Verdot than Cabernet Sauvignon. This reflects the strict selection they had to do in a rainy year that was very challenging for Cabernet Sauvignon, especially in certain parts of the traditional vine-growing regions of Mendoza. The final breakdown of the blend is 83% Malbec, 9% Petit Verdot and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is from the first of a series of three wet vintages where they see lower temperatures as an advantage to get where they want to go. They are more after elegance, freshness and complexity rather than power. In this vintage, they only used 15% new oak for the élevage in order to preserve the fresh aromatic expression of Malbec, and the aging lasted 15 months. It's incredibly fresh and floral, superbly balanced and very charming. This is the year with the most Malbec ever; it was an accident, but it was the kind of Malbec they like. They generally aim to have more Cabernet in the blend, but that wasn't possible in this low-yielding vintage. The palate is very balanced and elegant, with very good freshness and some restraint, not alcoholic or sweet at all. They find a lot of similarities with 2014 in Bordeaux—classical, fresh, quite transparent and juicy but precise. This has to be the best Cheval des Andes I've tried so far. They tell me this is the first vintage that really follows the style they want to produce in Argentina, with balance, complexity and freshness, away from high alcohol, extraction, oak and excess.