Aymeric de Gironde summed up the 2013 vintage perfectly: ‘Normally we make wine to make money, this year you needed money to make wine.’ Production at Château Cos d’Estournel was 50% down, a combination of reduced yields through poor flowering and strict selection at harvest. The grand vin is a bright, fresh effort with pleasing aromatics and a lightness of touch that speaks of the vintage. Pagodes de Cos has a salty mineral tang and attractive vibrancy. Neither are weighty St Estèphe. Cos Blanc is wonderful. A bit like Aile d’Argent at Mouton, it’s the supporting actor here that walks off with the Oscar.
It’s only de Gironde’s first vintage at Cos as Managing Director, having arrived in February 2013. Talk about a baptism of fire. Plum job, then, straight out of the blocks, the worst vintage in over a decade to deal with. Still they’ve done well at Cos to avoid the mistake of trying to push against the grain. Technical Director Dominique Arangoits described a ‘challenging’ vintage, and with a raised eyebrow, clearly more than a few sleepless nights.
It was certainly a vintage of paradoxes. Cold and wet spring, then wet, disruptive weather at flowering, followed by a July that was the warmest at the property in sixty years – good job really given what Mother Nature had in store for September. Warm, humid conditions forced an early harvest because the threat [and reality] of rot in the vineyards. Hence the lightness, the delicacy. Cos 2013 sits at ‘just’ 12.7% alcohol. That’s worlds apart from 2009. There’s attractive vibrancy and freshness here in both Château Cos d’Estournel itself and the second wine Les Pagodes de Cos. Prices are still pretty firm for the vintage, OK 8% down on 2012 [81 euros ex-negociant, around £900/$1500 a case], but still 25% up on the 2008 release [a better wine]. Once again Liv-Ex analysis on Cos pricing is worth a peek.
Cos d’Estournel Blanc comes not from St Estèphe but from vineyards up in the north of the Médoc in Jau-Dignac and Loirac. The northerly aspect along with the estuarine and Atlantic influence provides cools summers. It looks excellent in 2013, the year in which the few Médoc whites that there are, have performed extremely well. The wine is pressed, vinified and aged in barrels, only 7% of which are new. There’s attractive zest and life here with lovely zappy acids that keep the ball in the air. Delicious stuff.
I’ve already posted on Goulée, the Médoc that has been produced by Cos for the past ten years. It’s a refreshing and vibrant 2013.
The following wines were tasted on 31/3/14 at Chateau Cos d’Estournel:
Château Cos d’Estournel, Bordeaux Blanc
Pale green/silver; very attractive grapefruit and citrus tones, spicy ginger and oyster shell; full palate; broad and attractive with nice spice and freshness; weighty and full but zip of acidity keeps the show on the road nicely; very good length. Excellent. Up with the very best dry whites this year. [76% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Semillon, 13.34% alc, TA 4.9, pH 2.99, pressed and vinified in barrel, only 7% new]. Drink 2016-2022. 92-94+
Château Cos d’Estournel, Grand Cru Classé, St Estèphe
Deep and saturated look; vibrant at edge; cassis, some menthol and spices on the aromatics; blackcurrants; balanced and elegant palate; fresh and crisp with emphasis on delicacy. Stylistically very much in-line with the light vintage and a very different experience here. Expect this to fill out a little. [78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 12.7% Drink 2018-2030. 90-92
Les Pagodes de Cos, St Estephe
Mid depth; vibrant edge; spicy, salty and mineral qualities; some smoked meats and blackcurrant tones beneath; attractive entry, good-ish depth, some cream; nicely measured with good grip and sap. Elegance. [64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot]. Drink 2018-2026. 87-88+
Goulee by Cos d’Estournel, Medoc
Mid depth; healthy and vibrant looking; fresh, spicy nose; lively and lifted; redcurrants and cherry notes; light bodied but refreshing on the palate with good acidity and lift. To drink young with all the fruit and life. Lively and sappy. Good interpretation of the vintage. [60% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 12.6% alc, TA 3.3, pH 3.52]. Drink 2017-2022. 86-87+