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Château Cos d’Estournel

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Address: 33180 St Estèphe

Telephone: +33 (0)5 56 73 15 50



The famous pagoda chais of second growth Château Cos d’Estournel marks the boundary between Pauillac and St Estèphe. Alongside the likes of Châteaux Léoville-Las Cases, Ducru-Beaucaillou and Palmer, Cos is about as expensive as you get outside the first growths. There has been renewed here ambition, and investment to match, after the purchase of the property by Michel Reybier. The modernized chai is dramatic and as state-of-the-art as you can get and the winemaking has clearly gone up a gear. There is no question that is a modern day first growth but it remains very different to its arch rival Château Montrose. If Montrose is the appellation’s answer to Latour, then Cos is surely St Estèphe’s Mouton. The property makes sumptuous wines loaded with fruit but also with considerable tannin. That said there is real precision and focus here, despite the often plump and extremely generous flavours. The second wine, Les Pagodes de Cos, is very good indeed – especially so in 2011 when it represented almost 70% of the crop in that tricky year. 

Of course the biggest recent change here at Cos was the surprise departure of Jean-Guillaume Prats at the end of 2012. 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. Certainly the wines produced here in 2013 and 2014 under the new direction point to a more balanced winemaking approach. 2014, in particular, looks especially impressive.

Vineyard/Terroir:  67 hectares planted with 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Average age of the vines is 35 years, planted at a density of 8,000-10,000 vines per hectare.

Winemaking/Elévage: New cellars in 2008. Three week fermentation and maceration followed by eighteen months ageing in barrel, 80% of which are new.

Tasting notes:

  • 2015 Dark at centre; colour close to the edge; seriously deep with a voluptuous edge; black fruits; dark cherries, some spice – a lovely seam of pure fruit here; plushness on the palate; very clean and cool entry; lots of layers; pretty voluptuous effort this. Best Cos since 2010 I reckon. Drink 2024-2040. Tasted at Cos 4/4/16. 96-97+
  • 2014 Deep and concentrated colour; tight to the rim; legs; pure; creamy tones; sweetness and ripeness; fat almost but nicely layered aromatics; core of blackcurrant, cassis fruit; similarly layered palate with an excellent core of fruit and material; oak appears completely soaked up by the fruit; nicely balanced; freshness too; lots of matter and material; little warmth on the finish and plenty of ripe tannin too. Impressive stuff. [65% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 33%, Cabernet Franc, 2%, 14.2% alc, TA3.5, pH3.77 IPT 87 80% new oak]. Drink 2020-2035. Tasted at Cos, 30 March, 2015. 94-96+
  • 2013 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
  • 2012 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+ Drink 2018-2035
  • 2011 Deep and saturated; purple edge; colour tight to rim; full nose; fat and ripe, almost a bit of fig and an earthy, mealy note [not unattractive]; more unctuous than Pagodes; some spicy, briary tones but rich palate, pretty big. Harmony here, more grip than Pagodas and a very good finish. Richer than Pagodes but not necessarily that much better. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot 5% Cabernet Franc 13.5% alc Tasted at Cos 6/4/12 91-93+ Tasted Apr ’12 at Cos Drink 2020-2035
  • 2010 Deep and dense looking; little chalky note initially; obvious depth but little reticent; intense spicy palate with menthol and black fruit flavours; quite thick but much fresher than 2009; very attractive texture and density but also richness. Very good wine indeed if a little subdued on the day. Needs time. Drink 2018-2040. 96+ MW Institute Nov ’14 [Earlier note] Deep sublimated look; legs; ripe, plush and very seductive nose; layered and intense aroma – bodes well; real ripeness and density here, some mineral, black fruits too – ripe and very attractive on the nose; quite satiny palate; intense and full but also focused; real concentration in the mid-palate. Tannins extremely well managed. Some grip at the end which makes it feel very complete. Real length. Very first growth. 96-98+/100 [78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. 14.5 alc, IPT 91, pH 3.5] Tasted at the Cos 6th April 2011. Drink 2020-2040+
  • 2009 Arterial in colour, incredibly saturated; comparably saturated and sublimated aromas; very full; almost porty; creamy cassis; packed to the brim and extremely polished; layer upon layer of lush, creamy fruit – a boatload of fruit; great purity if a little monolithic. What can one say? Controversial? It’s certainly an extremely bold statement. Needs time. The tannins are considerable but still manage to be silky. You wonder if this is what Cheval Blanc ’47 was like in its youth [yes, I know that’s a St Emilion]… Drink 2019-2040. 96+ MW Institute Nov ’13 [Earlier note] Completely saturated and very deep looking; lovely voluptuous nose; very ripe; cassis with figs; nose saturated with aromatics, violets and ripe red fruits; really terrific; sweet ripeness to the palate [alcohol is 14.5 but let’s forget that for now]; wonderful red fruit fruits [strawberries/blackcurrants] real purity and density. Jean Guillaume Prats says he’s looking for laser like precision at Cos and there is a sculpted, polished quality here too. Pretty amazing depth, some warmth from the alcohol yes but not burning as it’s buried under a pile of fruit and lots and lots of extremely ripe tannin. This is very rich yet extremely polished. Great length here, quite terrific. Overall a wine of extraordinary density alongside purity and concentration. Coffee, espresso on the finish. A lot has been written about this wine being over the top. If that was the case, there is no sense of that now. This is a great wine which expresses the qualities of this truly extraordinary vintage both in St Estephe especially, and at in Cos in particular. 98+/100 Tasted Nov ’10 at Cos Drink now – 2040+
  • 2008 Mid depth; dark core; substantial slightly worked feel to the nose; some resin, spice, plums, meaty note; palate open and the most full here in St Estèphe; generous and supple. Lots of extract and chew here. Nice length and grip. Very good. 93+ MW Institute Nov ’12 [Earlier note] Dark saturated colour; dense and tight to the rim, legs in the glass, black red; wonderful ripe nose, great cassis red fruits and very open also with minerality, wet rocks; lots of depth, palate layered, deep and intense. Great sweetness to the fruit and very layered; intensity and concentration but also pretty voluptuous; lots of structure here too. Tannins very fine. This wine is showing nice development on the palate. It is extremely attractive, very precise and has plenty of grip. Interesting actually how it is not completely overshadowed by the 2009. 95+/100 Tasted Nov ’10 at Cos. Drink now – 2030
  • 2007 Deep and arterial looking; legs; ripe and plush nose; satin and surprising ripeness and lovely black fruits and wet stone elements; density and layers; palate ripe and fleshy with ripe and nicely handled tannin; dense and ripeness and not at all over-extracted. Very good length. Excellent effort 93+/100 MW Institute Nov ‘11 Drink now – 2025
  • 2006 Deep red with some purple at edge; bit dumb initially, earth, some prunes, stones and minerals – bit tight – quite layered with strawberry fruit beneath, some stalks; palate sweetish entry, still quite firm but with more depth and richness; palate looks good, quite closed though plenty of extract, tannin and acid here. This needs time again. 90-92/100 MW Institute Nov ‘10 Drink now – 2025
  • 1994 good colour; oak, some spice, fleshy fruit on palate, soft but with good supporting tannin. 90+/100 Barrel sample tasted at the Chateau Nov ’95.
  • 1993; Dark; earthy nose with slightly feral edge but meaty; not profound on palate, a little weedy and elegant with a short finish. Clearly rained on. Bit disappointing. 86/100 Aug ‘04
  • 1991 Good colour; slightly rustic nose; little dumb; good structure and elegance given the poor vintage. 83/100 Oct 95
  • 1978 Good colour; red/black; mature nose of tobacco, spices and blackcurrant fruit with undergrowth elements; palate big and chunky with tannins. Good concentration and flavour. 90/100 Nov ‘89
Les Pagodes de Cos
  • 2015 Deeply coloured; reddish purple at the edge; opaque at centre; pretty and ripe; focused; cherries; nice spices and black fruits too; very appetizing; nice entry; more concentration clearly but with charm and harmony; lots of grip and chew here. Length. [46% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, 13.1% alc, TA 3.0, pH 3.75, IPT 57, 30% new oak yield 44hl/ha]. Drink 2023-2030. Tasted Cos 4/4/16. 91-93
  • 2014 Deeply coloured; saturated look; purple at the meniscus; healthy looking; fruit; precise and creamy; blackcurrant; clean and fresh; some black cherry and summer fruit compote tones; layered palate with texture and a seam of blackcurrant fruit; nice acidity here; complete on the end with nice length. Good effort. [55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 43% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.9% alc, 3.4TA, 3.78 pH, ITP 73, 50% new oak]. Drink 2019-2028. Tasted at Cos, 30 March, 2015. 90-92+
  • 2013 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+
  • 2012 Deep and saturated; slightly looser at the rim than the grand vin; spices, mincemeat, wonderfully ripe tons; 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. 90-92+ Drink 2018-2030
  • 2011 Deep and saturated; blackcurrant, black cherry and perfumed nose; very pretty; cassis and cream too; very attractive; creamy plush palate with lots of fruit, very accessible and harmonious; fine tannin and very polished overall. Little bite at the end but wonderful tannin profile in a tricky vintage. You wouldn’t know. A great effort. 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 13.3% alc Tasted at Cos d’Estournel 6/4/12 90-92+ Apr ‘12 Drink 2018-2030+
  • 2010 Deep, thick and concentrated look; legs; thick and ripe, some marzipan hints, very ripe nose; minerals and stone too; creamy note to the nose; thick palate, ripe, precise; some tar, this is very concentrated in feel. Lots of ripe tannin. Some warmth on the finish. 92-94+/100 [62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot alc 14.13% IPT 73 pH3.51] Tasted at Cos d’Estournel 6th April 2011. Drink 2018-2030
Château Cos d’Estournel, Bordeaux Blanc
  • 2015 Silver/white; saline quality; oyster shell and mineral tones [harvested between Sept 14 – 29]; lees and grapefruit characters; lovely weight in the mouth – very round and textured; excellent white wine. [75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon, 15% new oak, 13.7% alc, TA 4.5, pH 3.1, yield 29 hl/ha]. Drink 2017-2025. 93-95+
  • 2014 Washed pale straw; hint of green; grapefruit; some oyster shell; very vibrant aromatics; tight palate with wax and grapefruit zest; excellent concentration; full body; but zesty and refreshing finish. Nice zip but good length. Best Cos Blanc yet? [66% Sauvignon Blanc, 44% Semillon, 14% alc., 3.2TA, pH3.1 barrel fermented, 15% new oak.]. Drink 2016-2022. Tasted April, 2015. 93-95+
  • 2013 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+
  • 2012 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+

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