Château Cos d’Estournel has produced a dense, serious wine in 2012. It comes across as more immediately polished than arch rival Montrose, perhaps firing on six-cylinders as opposed to Montrose’s eight, though Cos’s opulence makes its overall power a bit deceptive. The comparison between the two will be fascinating down the line even if Montrose has the edge in terms of sheer power. The real difference here is on price. Cos recently released at around £990 [$1500] a case. It makes Montrose [£660/$1000] look good value, and Calon-Ségur [at £440/$700] perhaps particularly so. Still I expect Cos see this as cheap given recent pricing here, though I wouldn’t like to be a merchant charged with having to shift it [as good as the wine undoubtedly is].
Of course the biggest change in the past year here at Cos was the surprise departure of Jean-Guillaume Prats. He was as much part of the fabric of the place as the distinctive pagodas and elephants. Can Cos be as headline grabbing without him at the helm? It’s difficult to imagine anyone being more controversial unless the new, youthful, CEO Aymeric de Gironde considers moving Cos over to screwcaps or joining the natural wine movement. Still de Gironde cuts an immediately charming and conciliatory tone in person, a good thing perhaps if Cos wants to try and woo back those maybe a little alienated by the previous regime, regardless of the substance of the impressive wines Prats fashioned. It will certainly be interesting to watch Cos to see if there is a shift of emphasis in the wines here too next vintage.
In 2012 the crucial factor here was the weather in August, the hottest since 2003 and the driest since 2010. At the same time high diurnal temperature ranges did help preserve acidity in the grapes and freshness in the aromas. The warm weather allowed the vineyards to catch up somewhat on the pretty turbulent weather that affected flowering. Yields were substantially lower than 2011 and 2010.
Picking began for the Merlot on September 28 and commenced on October 9 for the Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest was completed on October 15, five days earlier than at Montrose. There was a lot of material in the grapes and care was exercised in extracting gently, helped enormously by the state-of-the-art gravity fed set up at Cos. Nevertheless there is a lot of material and fruit in the wines, though the tannins, as you would imagine, are ultra refined. Cos, as mentioned, has a lot of depth and density, Les Pagodes is more immediately forward and fruit driven but there is freshness and life here too. Production is split 50:50 this year between the two.
Cos d’Estournel Blanc comes from vineyards further up the coast. It is very fruity and aromatic in 2012 with plenty of weight too. The blend is 77% Sauvignon Blanc and 23% Sémillon. La Goulée, the Médoc wine now in its tenth vintage, is extremely harmonious and polished. The blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. This, at least, usually represents good value.
The following wines were tasted at Chateau Cos d’Estournel on Friday, April 12, 2013.
Chateau Cos d‘Estournel
Deep and saturated; colour tight to the rim; thick and dense in the glass; serious nose; layered; lots of fruit here; a seam of focused and precise fruit; freshness with some creamy notes; very consistent on the palate; tight seam of blackcurrant fruit again; very pure and nicely layered; quite big and lots of material and evidently ripe tannin. Gives the wine density and chew at the back. Cassis and blackcurrant tones linger. Pretty serious effort. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 70% new oak. 13.8% alc. TA 3.2, pH 3.75 IPT 95. Tasted at Cos Friday April 12, 2013. 93-95+
Les Pagodes de Cos
Deep and saturated; slightly looser at the rim than the grand vin; spices, mincemeat, wonderfully ripe tones; satiny; layers here and expression of what I imagine is wonderfully plump Merlot; lots of layers and concentration on the palate but delivered in a very harmonious and balanced way; acidity gives some life and freshness too. Nice length. Very good. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 13.5% alc, IPT 75 TA 3.1 pH 3.73. 50% of production. Tasted at Cos April 12, 2013. 91-92+
Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Bordeaux Blanc
Pale green/gold; grapefruit, ginger and oriental spices; nice broad palate with barrique influence; candy and peardrop notes too; refreshing zest and zing with persistent and attractive grapefruit and citrus characters. Attractive. 77% Sauvignon Blanc, 23% Semillon. 14% alc TA 4.3 pH 3.1 91-92+
La Goulée by Cos d’Estournel, Médoc
Deep colour; healthy at edge; very primary fruit; briary and brambly notes; some spice; little earth and mineral tones; polished palate; clean and vibrant; some creamy qualities and very harmonious and elegant. Good length and a good effort. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 88-90