The List




The List


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 character.

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.