Château Cos d’Estournel has been making wine of first growth quality for years, but the period of ownership under Michel Reybier has coincided with a dramatic shift in ambition and overall quality. And not just in the main wine. Pagodes de Cos, the second label, in recent years is now better than many vintages of the grand vin itself in the 1990s. Yet, while there has been a string of impressive wines here in the last few vintages – 2014, 2015 and 2016 are all exciting editions of Cos – 2018 is a real marvel. I reckon it is possibly the finest wine made in the last decade at the estate. And, in what is a truly remarkable vintage for St Estèphe, Cos might actually just pip the extraordinary wines also made in this year at Château Calon-Ségur and Château Montrose.
Obviously 2018 was not remarkable from the start. Dismal more like. The cold wet winter was twice as wet as usual. Between April and May it grew warmer but was still wet and there was some rain during flowering in June too. Throughout that month there was a considerable mildew risk, and lots of mitigating work needed to be undertaken in the vineyards at Cos. From July onwards, the situation reversed. Warm daytime conditions with plenty of sun, alternated with cool nights which allowed for good ripening. An earlier decision to leave as many leaves on the vines as possible, turned out to be a good one. The hot and dry weather continued, with significant but useful rainfall in late August and in early September, which provided sufficient hydration to aid the final phenolic ripening. The harvest began with Merlot on the 19th September and finished with the Cabernets on 6th October. In contrast to approaches a decade or so ago – “waiting for the sake of waiting,” according to winemaker Dominique Arangoits – picking decisions were determined by the balance between ripeness and freshness. So less unnecessary hang time in which the grapes are losing acidity and aromatics. This has resulted in wines of incredible energy and definition, with beautifully ripe tannins and fruit profiles, but also with a spring in their step. Like I said at the top, Cos 2018 is exceptional.
The following notes were taken at Château Cos d’Estournel earlier in the year.
Goulée by Cos d’Estournel, Médoc, 2018
Deep and dark looking; dense at the centre; legs; nice ripe plummy fruit; some savoury tones also; fresh; little briary; lots here; full and fleshy on the palate; some briary and earth tones; savoury again; fresh and really nicely balanced on the finish. Fresh and dynamic Goulée. [73% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon 21% and Cabernet Franc 6%, 13.7 alc, TA3.2 pH 3.7, IPT 71, 20% new oak]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2022-2032. 90-91+
Pagodes de Cos, St Estèphe, 2018
Deep and saturated colours but healthy at the edge; creamy, plummy fruit; voluptuous; sensational; juicy and fresh on the plate with a little salinity too; bucket loads of fruit here; really jam packed; but not overdone in the slightest; quite tightly bound on the finish in an appetizing way; Overall really satisfying. [54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 14.5 alc, TA 3.3, pH 3.68, IPT 72, 20% new oak]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2025-2035. 93-95
Château Cos d’Estournel, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2018
Deep and precise on the nose; real seam of fruit; blackcurrant, cassis but also ripe black cherry notes; with some dark chocolate; real minerality; quite firm; a little brooding at first; full on the palate and well structured; textured and layered as you would imagine; fresh and really energetic feel; bold; unique; great length; layers of fruit and opens up terrifically in the glass. Marvelous wine. Fine tannins. Great length. [74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot, 14.5 alc, TA 3.3, 3.68 pH, IPT 80, 50% new oak]. Tasted April 2019. Drink from 2026-2045. 98-100
Pagodes de Cos, Bordeaux Blanc, 2018
Pale straw; very saline Sauvignon; oyster shell; lovely entry; vibrant citrus tones; grapefruit but with candied peel; fresh; 3-4 year old barrels used for winemaking with the wine bottled in June 2019. Fresh and vivacious. [93% Sauvignon Blanc, 7% Sémillon, 13.7alc TA 4.6]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2020-2024. 90-91+
Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc, 2018
Bolder; silver more serious; mineral and oyster shell notes; entry is sweeter; almost exotic; nice candied peel tones; quite weighty; fruit; fresh on the finish. Zingy and fresh. [67% Sauvignon Blanc, 33% Sémillon, 13.9% alc, TA 4.6]. Tasted April 2019. Drink 2021-2029. 93-95
Tags: Bin 169 Connawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Dominique Arangoits, Goulée, Médoc, Merlot, Michel Reybier, Pagodes de Cos, Pagodes de Cos Blanc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, St Estèphe