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COS Chronicle

“It had to be Cos, and only Cos”


When Michel Reybier acquired Cos d’Estournel two decades ago, his choice was a deliberate one. He was taken with the estate’s history and upon visiting it, found himself seduced by its extraordinary personality and the idea that its chateau was entirely devoted to winemaking.

You have owned Cos d’Estournel for twenty years. What made you choose Cos?

“I was looking for an estate that had something unusual about it and where I would be able to make a contribution over time. I wasn’t just looking to make yet another wine . . . I am a patient man. I turned down the opportunity to purchase five or six estates before I found what I was looking for. When I came across Cos d’Estournel, I was bewitched. Cos is a place with an inimitable terroir, a rich history and magnificent architecture. Wine has been grown here for more than two centuries.

The estate’s founder, Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, continues to fascinate me. He was the one who, in 1820, came up with the idea of building an Asian-inspired palace at the heart of his immense vineyard, in a place known as the “hill of pebbles,” and ventured as far as India to sell his wines. He was wholly devoted to his estate and fought ceaselessly to improve it, building new facilities and constantly revisiting its vineyard, its wines and the place as a whole with passion and tenacity. Indeed, he never lost sight of his ultimate goal of making Cos d’Estournel a premier estate and producing one of the world’s most extraordinary wines. It was something I couldn’t refuse!”

Louis Gaspard d'Estournel (3)
In your time as owner, what has made you the most proud?

“Cos clearly had the capacity to become one of the world’s greatest wines but there was work to be done for it to realize its potential. All of our investments over the last twenty years have been aimed at equipping the estate with the most advanced techniques in order to produce an outstanding wine. Every time there is a decision to be made, I ask myself: Will it be good for our wine? Or is it just a marketing ploy or a question of self-aggrandizement? In the latter case, the answer will always be no.

I am proud to say that year after year, the dedication of our teams and the quality of the work we carry out in the vineyard and the cellars have always paid off. It is a labor of love, one that requires patience, determination and precision, day in and day out, to bring our remarkable terroir to its fullest form of expression. In 2008, with the renovation of the estate’s main edifice, we were able to promote the legacy of its founder while transposing it into a forward-looking vision. Our gravitational cellars are the incarnation of this dual approach.”

It sounds like innovation is the lifeblood of Cos d’Estournel. Would you agree?

“Innovation must always be pursued to serve precise, ambitious needs. At Cos nothing is futile or superfluous; each decision is the result of meticulous consideration. This is what motivated us to carry out in-depth analysis of the estate’s soils; it allowed us to establish a highly precise, comprehensive mapping of the entire vineyard and understand exactly how each vine plant will interact with its environment.

Innovation at Cos also implies new forms of expression, like the estate’s first white wine, Cos d’Estournel Blanc, whose first vintage, 2005, was exceptional. Innovation also means seeking out new terroirs, as we did for Goulée by Cos d’Estournel, which was born of our desire to produce a singular, authentic wine on a terroir subject to extreme weather conditions.

Our only goal, be it for Cos d’Estournel or our other wines, is always to seek excellence: excellence in the vineyard, in our wines and in our people. We have never shied away from making unorthodox choices in the name of quality. Our choices are also governed by our commitment to respecting our surroundings, for respecting the environment, our men and women, the passing of time and the nature around us is for me non-negotiable.”

How will you pass on the estate’s legacy to future generations?

“Louis Gaspard d’Estournel was a builder with a vision and an adventurer with a passion for progress. I believe in continuity, that it is my duty to perpetuate a long-term vision for Cos d’Estournel, one that takes the environment and the world around us into account, so as to preserve this precious legacy for future generations. This means respecting the estate’s vineyard, its wines and its heritage, but it also entails a daily commitment from our teams. I deeply admire and am extremely grateful for the loyalty of our men and women. Their dedication is what allows us to pursue excellence while safeguarding the estate’s precious heritage. Louis Gaspard d’Estournel’s motto, Semper Fidelis, or “Forever loyal,” is carved into the pediment of the estate’s gate, and it is a symbol of one of Cos d’Estournel’s most fundamental values. Indeed, at Cos d’Estournel, loyalty—the loyalty of our people and our loyalty to this place and to the inimitable style that inhabits its buildings and wines—is vital.

I have always loved the idea that Cos d’Estournel is a chateau entirely dedicated to winemaking. Once again, this was a deliberate choice on the part of Louis Gaspard d’Estournel, who chose to consecrate Cos to wine while he resided on a neighboring property several hundreds of meters away. Speaking of which, I am very proud to have reunited these two properties to restore the original architectural ensemble as it was at his time. Louis Gaspard d’Estournel’s former residence now houses La Maison d’Estournel, a hotel and restaurant surrounded by nature that offers guests a highly singular experience. Indeed, Cos d’Estournel and La Maison d’Estournel are places that are perfect for spending time with loved ones and sharing the precious moments life has to offer, while savoring every delicious minute.”

What are your projects for Cos d’Estournel?

“Cos d’Estournel was founded more than two centuries ago, but today the same level of determination and commitment remains intact. My only credo is to seek out what is good for our wines, to aim for the exceptional and to equip ourselves with the resources necessary to reaching these goals while respecting our singular history and always maintaining wine at the heart of the estate.

My ambition is also forward-looking: we must never stop imagining different ways to share our philosophy. This has always been true at Cos, and today, in these troubled times, as we rethink our thoughts and actions, it has become essential. To reimbue our lives with meaning and once again come to appreciate the simple, authentic pleasures of life, we must draw on our legacy and look to the recent and more distant past. For there lie many challenges before us, as we seek to pursue excellence while respecting our planet and its inhabitants.

Moving forward, we will look to share our vision of this new world, by leveraging new opportunities including digital channels to foster a closer, most personal relationship with those who are passionate about our wines. We will continue to offer them unique, unforgettable moments. And, as always, we seek to make Cos one of the world’s greatest wines.”

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