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Chateau Cos d'Estournel

cos-high.jpgLocated on the St.-Estéphe/Pauillac border, the stunning property of Cos d’Estournel, with its mildly Asian-influenced façade and accoutrements (including Indian elephant statues) is without question, one of the benchmarks of Bordeaux, and amongst its greatest properties this century.

Recognised as St.-Estèphe’s best Château in the 1855 Classification, the fortunes of Cos (pronounced Koss) have wavered slightly, but has always been consistent in producing impressive wine, never having endured a weak period unlike many other Cru Classésin the last 155 years.  Today Jean-Guillaume Prats (who’s forebears owned Cos d’Estournel from 1917 to 1998) manages the impeccably run and maintained property with the same devotion and expertise as his father, Bruno.

Around 65 hectares (160 acres) located on the Pauillac side of St.-Estèphe, and following the recent removal of around 3½ hectares of Merlot, now planted to a mix of approximately 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and a little (less than 2%) Cabernet Franc.  Historically, Cos d’Estournel has had a higher proportion of Merlot - about 40%, thought responsible for the rich, fleshy style of many vintages of Cos d’Estournel.  However after detailed soil analysis, Jean-Guillaume believes certain sites were better-suited to Cabernet Sauvignon.  Whilst the average age of the vines is around 35 years, only grapes from vines aged 20 years and older are utilised in the production of the grand vin.cos-cuverie.jpg

In the last two years, Cos d’Estournel has been extensively renovated, specifically having a new winery and barrel room constructed that is little short of stunning.  The winery is entirely gravity-fed now, and the fruit undergoes 100% destemming.  Fermentation takes place in some 48 stainless steel vats of between 100hl and 110hl capacity, as well as a further 12 double vats of varying capacity between 19hl and 60hl, all matched to specific blocks’ production.  Temperartures are maintained below 32 degrees.  Delestage (rather than remontage) is used during fermentation to maximise extraction.  After three weeks or so, the wine is blended and placed into cask (between 60 and 100% new, depending on vintage) where it undergoes malolactic fermentation and ageing for up to 18 months, although 15 months is now considered optimum.  Finally the wine is egg white-fined, and bottled unfiltered.

Cos d’Estournel was notable for many years amongst the top Bordeaux properties in that its wines were filtered (initially twice, although filtration prior to bottling was halted with the 1989 vintage) and by 2002, the filtration prior to barrel ageing also ceased.


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