John Stimpfig, Decanter's content director, sat in on a remarkable Cos d'Estournel tasting of 11 wines that spanned nearly 40 years, beginning with the 1975 Grand Vin and ending with the 2013 Cos Blanc.
Cos d’Estournel masterclass:
The St Estephe ‘Super Second’ Cos d’Estournel needed little introduction to a knowledgeable and packed audience on the second morning of the November Decanter Fine Wine Encounter.
But the surprise ‘stand-in’ speaker did require a brief introduction because Aymeric de Gironde, Cos’ General Manager since 2012 was unable to attend at the last minute due to personal reasons.
No matter. In his place was Dimitri Augenblick who gave a barnstorming performance with consummate expertise, humour and polish. Of course, it helps that he knows and loves the estate’s wines with an evident passion. Apart from being director of development at the second growth for the last ten years, he also happens to be the son in law of owner Michel Reybier.
As a result, we received an intimate ‘insider’ view of this ambitious and remarkable property, which has unquestionably been taken to a whole new level of quality since the Reybier family purchased it a decade ago.
For instance, we learned about how Cos’s extraordinary new chai came about with the help of not one but two internationally famous architects.
‘The new gravity fed cellars were completed in 2008 and you must all come and see them,’ he told the audience. ‘And now you all have a personal invitation. Then you can see how we work. The cellars have made us much more haute couture. It means the wine is more precise because each parcel now has its own vat.’
Augenblick was also very informative on Cos’ history and terroir, explaining how the estate had begun and evolved over the last two centuries. ‘We used to have 65 hectares and now we have 91, with an unusually high proportion of Merlot for the left bank. And, of course, we are still trying to improve and develop.’
By now, the wines were certainly improving and developing in our glasses. First up were two Pagodes de Cos, its second wine which whose debut appearance was back in 1994. Though both are made for earlier drinking from young vines, the 2011 still has a good future, evidenced by the impressive 2002 which preceded it.
And then it was on to the main event; six Grand Vin vintages, all ex-Chateau. We began with the 1975, probably the best vintage of the decade which is only just starting to show its age. In contrast, the complex, deep 1986 is still in its pomp. Only now are its muscular tannins beginning to soften and meld with the cassis fruit.
As for the exquisite 1996 Cos, it is, for me, one of the wines of this great vintage. Again, it was stunning; cedary, cassis, spice and fabulously elegant tannins. There’s no rush to drink either of these wines.
Next were the 02, 05, 06 and 10. What a line up. The perfumed 02 held its own and is showing well, whilst the 05 is simply beautiful. Perfectly proportioned, this wine has everything and lacks nothing. The 06 couldn’t quite match it, but you certainly shouldn’t ignore it, as it needs time.
And it is quite impossible to ignore the near perfect 2010. This is great, great wine and proof positive of Cos’ stature.
Cos d’Estournel Blancs
To end, we had two sublime Cos d’Estournel Blancs (2012 and 2013), which Dimitri divulged are grown at the Reybiers’ Goulee property in the northern Medoc and vinfied at Cos. ‘We wanted to create a seriously good white wine,’ he explained. ‘So we began in 2005 and this is the result.’ It was a suitable grand finale to a truly great tasting.
However, this only left us gasping for more. Consequently, the audience was rather reluctant to let him go and continued to pepper him with questions on a wide variety of topics, which he was more than happy to answer as the glasses were being cleared for the next event. Bravo Dimitri! And thank you for a brilliant bravura performance.