The wines at Cos are characterised by exceptional balance and purity in 2019. The reds are very impressive indeed. Château Cos d’Estournel itself is fabulous, with real precision and focus. It displays great length and the tannins are super refined, with impressive texture. This is a St Estèphe that is evidently nudging perfection. Pagodes de Cos has lively plum and black cherry fruit tones and shows much refinement. The whites too look very good. They are more full-bodied than usual and weigh in at 14.4% alcohol – fractionally above the reds – but still retain freshness. This is the fifteenth white wine vintage here, and Cos blanc comes from a set of vineyards adjacent to the Gironde in the Médoc. Talking of Médoc, 2019 is also a very good vintage for Goulée. It is positive and energetic with a distinctively silky aspect. Overall bravo to Michel Reybier and his team led by technical director Dominque Arangoits.
On Zoom Arangoits described a year at Cos that began drier and warmer than average in February and March, which encouraged an early budbreak. Cooler conditions then slowed things down such that flowering was later and longer than usual, owing to the mixed weather, occurring in the first weeks of June. Later that month temperatures started to rise and the dry conditions that characterised the vintage began. Several well-timed short periods of rainfall helped the vines on the gravelly soils at Cos, and encouraged a successful veraison, and reduced vine stress [along with that of the technical team who were concerned about the overall drought conditions]. Still, despite this, by the middle of September there was a ‘fair bit’ of desiccation in the vineyards and, with potentially high alcohols, Dominque admitted to ‘dreaming for rain.’ Fortunately, that was what was received on September 23. This short spell of rain provided the vines with sufficient hydration for the final tannin ripening of the Merlot and Cabernets and also reduced the alcohol levels fractionally. The harvest at Cos was from September 23, starting with the Merlot on the gravel soils, finishing with the Cabernet by October 7. Overall, in production terms, the split between Cos and Pagodes is 50:50 in 2019.
Arangoits believes that the vines at Cos have learnt to adapt to the drier and hotter seasons, which helped the vines deal with the drought in 2019. “There is a vineyard memory of ’03, ’05 and ‘09”, says Dominique via Zoom. “Merlot has become more resistant to the heat and we can almost see that Merlot is taking on Cabernet characters and our Cabernet, Merlot characters, certainly in terms of their ripening profiles. They are quite similar now.” They are also fermenting cooler then in previous years here, more 26C rather than 29-30C, which helps extract less and allows the team to achieve greater refinement. Overall, for Cos, Arangoits sees 2019 as more akin to 2016 yet with some of the ripe characters of 2018 or 2009. Overall, he feels that the 2019 vintage expresses the terroir more than 2018, which is dominated more by the vintage. “The 2019 is a more intellectual wine for me. It has more complexity and maybe more dimensions than 2018, but it’s fascinating that the same terroir can produce such different wines. This 2018/19 combination will certainly go down with ’28 and 29, ’47 and ‘49 and ’59 and ‘61 combinations.”
For the whites, there were 7 days of picking before the September rain and 5 days after. The blend is literally two-thirds from the harvest pre-rain and one-third post rain. The Sémillon was picked more in the cooler period, and gave concentration and power with good acidity, combining with the more forward Sauvignon Blanc.
The following wines were tasted in London in June 2020. Hope you find the notes useful.
Pagodes de Cos Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019
Washed sliver gold; attractive; saline with a hint of lime; intense and deep; this feels serious; mineral entry; very bold and fresh expression; some flint and mineral notes; very tight on the palate; deliciously moreish – now I really need the oysters; really intense with good length. Cracking! More saline and mineral. Lovely. [88% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Sémillon, 14.38% alc, TA 4, pH 3.16 8% new oak, 28hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2021-2025. 91-93+
Château Cos d’Estournel Blanc, Bordeaux Blanc, 2019
Washed silver/gold; more fresh peach; spices; white melon; some white candy; a beauty; this has more texture to the palate; broader than Pagodes [the extra Sémillon I expect]; weighty; quite grand cru in style; lacks the zap of the very best years perhaps but has power and length; saline on the finish; sweet and sour notes on the end. Fab white. [65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Sémillon, 14.4% alc, TA 4, pH 3.15, 8% new oak, 28hl/ha]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-2035. 94-96+
Goulée, Médoc, 2019
Mid depth; dark at the core; earthy purple red at edge; earthy, sweet aromatics; lovely polished Medoc feel; some stalky blackcurrant notes; fresh and brambly; some chocolate but this feels lively and fresh; savoury aspects on aeration; sweet entry to the palate; integrated palate; soft and surprisingly silky; freshness and energy; mid weight. Some zap on the end suggests nice bite and acidity. Polished with lovely texture to the fruit. [86% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, 13.53% alc, TA 3, PH 3.74, 20% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2023-3035. 91-93+
Pagodes de Cos, St Estèphe, 2019
Deep; fractionally looser at the rim than Cos; pure plums and black cherry; not at all overt initially but feels balanced; fresh and appetizing style; zap and energy; lovely and cool; super; plum and black cherry perfume opened up in the glass; moreish; little tar emerged later too; seriously good aromatics now; this has concentration and lush fruit, gently extracted with the most supple of tannins. Overall plenty going on here; nice zap and sap on the finish; works well. Like the elegance here. This is caressing wine – sensuous Pagodes. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 14% alc, TA 3, pH 3.74, 20% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2024-2038. 94-95+
Château Cos d’Estournel, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe, 2019
Deep and dark at the centre; fresh looking at the edge; cassis; super pure and fresh; wonderfully polished and enticing; ripe plums beneath the cassis; tension almost; sweet entry; caressing style; really elegant and seductive Cos; this has power and chew but the tannins are great. Real density here but there is elegance. Really caressing finish. This wine is deceptively good. The balance is fabulous here. Outstanding wine that nudges with perfection. [14% alc, TA 3, pH 3.77, 55% new oak]. Tasted June 2020. Drink 2026-2050. 97-100