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COS Chronicle

2022: Precocious and Promising


While no one has forgotten the summer of 2022’s blistering temperatures in the Médoc and throughout France, it is also worth recalling that the growing season began with the coldest winter of the last ten years!
These harsh conditions proved valuable in preparing the estate’s vines for frost on April 3 and 4, as did the late pruning carried out on many plots, so they finally suffered little damage.

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Winter was barely over when hot, dry weather set a new trend for the rest of the growing cycle, which would be characterized by early development throughout.

Bud break began early, on March 24, and was very homogenous in nature. The first flowers also appeared ahead of schedule, on May 16, nine days earlier than the previous year.
The beautiful blossoms on the estate’s Merlot, particularly its oldest Merlot, yielded a large quantity of seeds, which are essential in bringing structure and energy to the estate’s wines.

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A first heat wave on June 15-18 led to concern that the vineyard would suffer from acute water stress, despite the fact that the Merlot grapes were the smallest they had been at the same moment in the growing cycle since 2010, and small berries are a promising indicator of excellent concentration.
Fortunately enough, rains on June 20-30 fell at exactly the right moment to quench the vines’ thirst and create a more serene context for the rest of the summer.

Two more heat waves followed, beginning with the first two weeks of July, which, along with those of 2003, were the hottest seen in twenty-two years.
Acclimated early in the year to hot temperatures, the estate’s grapes, which had also benefitted from meticulous leaf thinning according to the needs of each individual row of vines, were little affected by these conditions. Veraison followed, twelve days early.

The estate’s vines and terroir proved truly exceptional in the face of drought.
Forty-five years old on average, the vines sought the water they needed deep within clay soils that had fully replenished their water supplies during the winter rains and proved a most valuable resource.

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The long-awaited harvest finally began on September 7, ten days earlier than in 2021. Choosing the date of harvest required considering various parameters to estimate the grapes’ maturity: skins, seeds, acidity, and potential alcohol levels.
The experience of the last twenty years also informed the decision but ultimately, the start of harvest was determined upon tasting the grapes.

Precious insight also came from the northern Médoc, where the harvests of Cos d’Estournel Blanc similarly began very early, on August 29.
The same questions had been raised and the same answers agreed upon; it all came down to trusting the team’s knowledge of the terroir and tasting the grapes.

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It is still early, with the harvest finished merely days ago, on September 23, but our expectations seem likely to be fulfilled.
And if comparisons with other vintages, especially the 2005, which also saw early drought, and the 2003, which also experienced excessive heat, are any indication, then we may dare well say that a great vintage is in the works!

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