Chateau Cos D'Estournel
Saint Estephe would be forgiven for having something of
an inferiority complex; it is only separated from the great
Chateau Lafite Rothchild and Pauillac by a small stream, yet
it does not possess that appellation’s Premier Grand Cru,
having to make do with two mere second growths. And, no
matter how hard it tries, it has never caught the
imagination of the public in the same way as Margaux, or
even the upstart Pomerol.
What it does produce, though, are wines of tannic power
which often belie their relatively high (for this part of
Bordeaux anyway) Merlot content, and provide a welcome
antidote to wimpish, drink-early new world reds that modern
tastes have propelled to the fore.
Chateau Cos D’Estournel is perhaps the finest example of
a Saint Estephe wine, and it has managed to gain what could be
termed the runner up slot in the 1855 classification system.
Today it is regarded, together with a small number of peers,
as a superior Deuxieme Grand Cru; able to compete with the
big boys of the 1855 club, yet maintain its own distinct
And that character is one that encompasses, in standout
years for the chateau, such as 1995, exotic spices, black
fruits, chewy tannins and a long, long finish. It possesses
some of the elegance of a Lafite or a Margaux, but with a
more wilful, boisterous side – almost a rock and roll
version of the Premier Grand Crus.
Don’t expect to drink it young, though. The 2000, which
is our recommended wine, will require many more years in the
bottle before it will reach the peak of maturity, at which
point the tannins will settle down slightly (mellowing
rather than disappearing, though) and the wine should
display the fine, aristocratic structure and sophistication
that it is currently hinting at in its youth.
Like Chateau Pichon Lalande, and some of the other super
seconds, Cos D’Estournel is not a pretentious wine. It is
not the nouveau riche millionaire arriving loudly and
immodestly in his Lamborghini at a party. It is a wine of
substance and strength that does not require flashiness to
win friends. It follows its own course, regardless of how
this fits with the fashions of the day and is not willing to
compromise its character to match the vagaries, and
mutability of tastes. And in these days of marketing-led
companies and consumer focus groups, this is a quality that
should be cherished.