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The call of faraway lands. As mysterious and intriguing as a lone adventurer returning from a solitary sail, Cos d’Estournel is slow to reveal itself. Little by little, it evokes stories of distant places, market stalls brimming with unfamiliar fruits, spices and wares, village festivities warmed by the joy of revelers and the setting sun, and sumptuous visions of ladies and their voluptuous curves. A myriad of scents, colors and tastes appeals to the senses. The Grand Vin of Cos d’Estournel is both demure and deliberately sensuous, a fascinating and elegant nectar.
The vineyard of Cos spreads around the château on 91 hectares.The Cabernet Sauvignon vines (60% of the vineyard) find the soil of their choice in the thin layers of gravely soil situated on the top and on the southern slopes of the hill. On the other hand, the Merlot vines (40% of the vineyard) excel on the eastern slopes and on the slopes where the Saint-Estephe limestone bed shows on the surface.
The percentage of Cabernet and Merlot varies from one vintage to another according to the year weather conditions, benefiting successively to the one or the other. Plantation is extremely dense (8000 to 10000 vines per hectare) and the average age of the vineyard is high (35 years old on the average) in order to enable the roots to extend excessively and to obtain a very slender yield per vine that will create the « Grand Goût »
Each vine grower is in charge of 45 000 vines on which they have got to undertake various labours every year. These cultural tasks are for most of them done manually. The harvest is of course manually picked too. And it is by hand that the grapes, once collected in special wooden baskets, will be strictly selected.
There are two common misconceptions regarding Château Cos d'Estournel that I want to put right straight away.
First, that what is probably the most unusual and most photographed building in Médoc is not a château but the chais where the wine is made. It has never been a home to any of its owners.
Secondly, the name Cos is spoken as it is written with the "s" pronounced - this is typical of the region and is also valid for other names such as Pétrus and Climens.
Cos d'Estournel is a relatively new property only being founded as late as the beginning of the 19th century by Louis Gaspard d'Estournel who had inherited a small parcel of land on his fathers death in 1791. He kept buying plots of land enlarging his holdings steadily. At first he had no real plan what to do with his land but one day in 1811 as he was looking towards his neighbour Château Lafite Rothschild, who at that time was the most renowned and expensive of all wines, he started to ask himself if he would not be able to produce great wines as well. Comparing the quality of the soil, the inclination of his land and the nearness to the river he realises for the first time the potential of property.
The wines of St. Estèphe are characteristically fullbodied wines with great concentration of fruit but also tending to be rather rustic and tough with fairly high acidity, especially in their youth.
Cos is different, mainly because of its soil containing more gravel and less clay than the rest of St. Estéphe. It also has a larger percentage of Merlot, around 40%, than most wines from Médoc. This leads to a wine with more softness and elegance but still with enough power. I personally find it resembling a St. Julien in style rather than a Pauillac which geographically would be more logic.
You can enjoy Cos fairly young but don't be fooled into believing that it doesn't age well - one of the greatest wines I enjoyed from Cos was a wonderful 1895.