Majestic, intense, full-bodied and tannic, Cos d’Estournel is considered the leading wine of St Estèphe. Highly tannic in its youth, over time it develops much much like the great wines of adjoining Pauillac.
The wine is typically a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc, consistently displaying immense power and evident breed.
"The final blend of the 2017 Cos d'Estournel is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Very deep purple-black in colour, it offers up intense scents of crushed blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries with touches of incense, spice cake, star anise and plum preserves plus a perfumed hint of potpourri. The palate is medium-bodied with very firm yet wonderfully ripe, "sweet", fine-grained tannins at just 13% alcohol—something of a miracle in our modern times. The palate sports fantastic freshness and tons of energy emitted from the intensely perfumed black fruit layers, finishing on an epically long-lingering mineral note. Truly profound.
Moderate stress has a way of sending living things – in this case, vines and people – in one direction or the other. This is the thought that ran through my head following my separate tastings at Cos d’Estournel.
Due to its proximity to the Gironde estuary, at least there was no frost this year at Cos d’Estournel to get stressed about. Flowering took place on May 22, which was exceedingly early. In June, there were early signs of water stress and the vines were slowing down and sluggish, according to technical director Dominique Arangoïts. But the vines at this vineyard are now coming in at an average age of 55 years old, which suggests they are capable of managing a bit of water stress. Thankfully, by the end of June, there was enough rain to reinvigorate the vines. This hydric stress appears to have equated to the formation of relatively small, thick-skinned berries in 2017. Thanks to the early flowering, it was an early start to the harvest: September 12. Harvest continued through until the end of the month. Apart from the stress of the rains at harvest to contend with, the Chateau’s managing director, Aymeric de Gironde, suddenly upped-sticks and headed over to Troplong-Mondot during harvest. (As an aside, I must mention that Aymeric de Gironde went on to achieve a truly amazing 2017 at his new estate.)
When I taste a wine that is, apparently against the odds, an incredible achievement, it fascinates me no end to study the how and the why. I hasten to add, I arrived at Cos d’Estournel for my second tasting of this wine completely unannounced, upon which I was cordially welcomed and invited to taste from the same bottle that a local merchant was sampling. This was tasted fifteen days after my first visit and the wine was looking even more extraordinary, having opened-out just a bit more to reveal glimpses at a vast array of underlying, tightly-wound yet seriously intense aromas and flavours. The frame remained as rock-solid as the first time I tasted it, sporting tannins so beautifully ripe they should serve as textbook examples. Here is a wine of incredible grace and depth, which should unfurl slowly, over many years, offering excellent cellaring potential.
Yields for the grand vin in 2017 were 43 hl/ha. 60% new oak is being used for the maturation. The 2017 barrel samples I tasted are the final blends and are already composed in the cellar."
97-100 points, Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW
"Love tasting this wine. You almost want to drink it for its harmony and balance. Full-bodied and so complete with cloves, spices, dark berries and hints of chocolate. Wonderful integration on the finish."
97-98 points, James Suckling.
"The 2017 Cos d’Estournel is matured in 60% new oak and comprises 13% alcohol, approximately the same as the 2016. It has a more expressive and welcoming bouquet than usual, maybe more indicative of how this wine will mature in bottle, less opaque than the 2016. A common theme throughout the range from Cos d’Estournel is a Pauillac-inspired backbone/tannic structure coupled with an attractive scent wafting over from the estuary...think mudflats, oyster shells and the tang of sea spray. It gains a little intensity with aeration but never fully lets go. The palate is very well balanced with filigree tannin, rendering this one of the most approachable barrel samples from the estate in recent years. The coolness of the latter part of the season defines this Saint-Estèphe more than the precocity of June: streamlined, cool and linear with a velvety finish that feels sleek, to the point of being understated, though that belies its length and focus. This is simply a very classy wine in the making and typical of the more recent sophisticated style pursued by the property in recent years."
94-96 points, Neal Martin
"The 2017 Cos d'Estournel is a sleek, polished wine built on finesse more than power. Sweet, perfumed aromatics and silky tannins add to that impression. In 2017 the Grand Vin shows a distinctly red-fruit and floral character that matches its mid-weight personality nicely. The blend is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. New oak is around 60%."
92-95 points, Antonio Galloni
"66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot (their vines aged 80–100 did very well this year), 1% Petit Verdot, 1% Petit Verdot. Harvested 12–30 September. 60% new oak. pH 3.7, IPT 68. 40% of the harvest made it into the grand vin this year (it can be up to 60%), hence a very good Pagodes this vintage).
Inky with black core and purple rim. Dark-fruited and lightly charry to give a savoury/fruit complexity. Extremely pure cassis. A little more chewy than the Pagodes but still remarkably silky, with clarity, precision and length but without excess richness. Deep and long. Amazing balance already. Great precision, helped by a decade of experience in the new chai, says technical director Dominique Arangoits. Opens in the glass to reveal a hint of something floral. Plenty of depth but no excess weight, and modest alcohol. 13% Drink 2025-2040"
17.5+ Julia Harding MW for jancisrobinson.com
Saint -Estèphe, with 1,377 hectares under vine is the largest of the major Bordeaux appellations in the Medoc. Located in the most northern part of the Left Bank, on average, 585,000 cases of wine are produced each year. The soils see a rich mixture of rocks, clay, limestone and gravel that rests on the surface and of course below, deep in the terroir. Beneath the surface lies a complex blend of different soils, sub soils and terroir. Over the past several decades, the general trend in the Saint -Estèphe vineyards has been to add more Merlot, which has added a lot of softness to the tannins and the wines. Merlot works well in the appellation due to the large amount of clay found in the soils. in the appellation due to the large amount of clay found in the soils.