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].
Anyone who has drunk 1961 or 1970 Château Meyney will be very well aware of the extraordinary potential of this property. Situated next to Château Montrose in St Estèphe, the vineyard lies in a single block of approximately fifty hectares and sits in a terrific position overlooking the Gironde. There has been steady and sure improvement here over the past decade since the purchase of the property by Credit Agricole’s CA Grand Crus group. There has been much investment in the vineyard and very good wines were made here in 2009 and 2010. I’m especially impressed by Meyney in 2012 too. It’s a cracking effort, a real success for the vintage, and provides genuine value to the consumer.
Hervé Berland, Château Montrose’s new managing director, is rightly proud of the wine here in 2012. Alongside Mouton and Léoville-Las-Cases this is one of the most powerful wines of the Médoc. It was also amongst the very last picked, a risky business enabled only by the terroir of Montrose. The soils here, gravel with a clay base, were sufficiently well draining for the rain that arrived at vintage time, but water retentive enough to resist the very dry period between August and late September. This dry period created fruit with especially thick skins, helping the grapes [Cabernet especially] resist the threat of botrytis that accompanied the late October wet weather. It was this that let Montrose snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Château Calon-Ségur has produced a very serious wine in 2012. It shows just how St Estèphe’s best terroirs have actually succeeded in this vintage. The Cabernet Sauvignon, that misfired in so many other districts, was harvested here at thirteen degrees. The Merlot was pushing nearly fifteen. No greenhouses or poly-tunnels to be seen, just an extremely nifty vineyard site doing the magic [along with assiduous vineyard management]. Yes there is considerable tannin and structure in Calon-Ségur, but the tannin is clearly ripe enough and there is plenty of balancing material. There is freshness too that lends appeal.