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COS Chronicle

A Blend Is Born

ARTICLE -

A labor of passion

Once the winemaking process has come to a close in our gravity-feed cellars in November, the first tastings of the newly crafted wines mark the start of blending.

A crucial step in the creation of a new vintage, blending allows us to bring together the different characteristics of the estate’s various terroirs in a single balanced wine. Even more spectacular than the sum of its parts, the final blend incarnates the identity of Cos d’Estournel’s complex terroir, whose one hundred hectares of vineyard include twenty types of soil! Derived from the old Gascon word for “hill of pebbles,” the name “Cos” is an explicit reference to the terroir’s predominant characteristic, which is complemented by the presence of clay, limestone and marl.

Adding to this extraordinary complexity is the vineyard’s diverse exposures to sunlight that results from its location at the edge of the plateau of Saint-Estèphe and the numerous slopes it offers. The grape varieties also bring more details to the whole picture, between Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet-Franc and Petit Verdot, as well as the ages of the vines, 45 years old on average.

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Finally, the weather conditions of the year, which can affect plots differently, bring the last level of detail to this composition process.

In 2021, uncommon meteorological conditions created numerous challenges, in the face of which our teams, forever present and vigilant, the excellent location of the hill of Cos, and the advanced age of our vines, proved primordial. Consequently, the vines planted on clay and gravel soils evolved in synchrony to deliver equally ripe Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

In the 2021 vintage, the former grape variety is remarkably enticing, fruity, and rich, with a very noble expression, while the latter, despite low levels of sugar that resulted in a lower alcohol content, reveal a magnificent intensity and a freshness characteristic of the most elegant, sophisticated wines.

The blending process consummates the steady, precise efforts carried out in the vineyard.

The blending process consummates the steady, precise efforts carried out in the vineyard throughout the year—each plot being the responsibility of a single member of the team from one year to the next, to foster intimate knowledge of its unique characteristics and specific needs—and meticulous harvests that are carried out by plot, or even by subplot, when the plot contains different kinds of soils.

The wines that are used in blending reflect this commitment and the respective terroirs on which they are produced, since after the harvest, the estate’s grapes are transferred to one of eighty-four vats. Our gravity-feed system is also primordial, for it allows us to treat our grapes with utmost respect so they may reveal their innate characteristics in the purest form.

When Michel Reybier, Technical Director Dominique Arangoïts, and Cellar Master Angélique Vigouroux come together in December to begin tasting and blending, they are faced with a palette of wines that are the most representative of the estate’s terroir for the vintage in question. It is a process that requires sensitivity, comprehension, and exigency to reach an objective that remains immutable from one year to the next: that of creating a wine that sublimates what Nature has given us while remaining faithful to it.

Once ultimate balance and harmony has been found, the wine is blended before being transferred to barrels, as early as December. Our gravity-feed system allows us to treat the young and precious nectar with all the necessary precautions. The choice to blend before aging means the resulting wine will maintain the same level of balance and harmony throughout months of barrel aging.

Cellar Master Angélique Vigouroux describes the birth of a new vintage upon blending: “When we encounter our creation for the first time, time stands still. It is finally before us, undoubtedly even better than we had envisaged. It is an emotional experience. All the choices and decisions made during an entire year are in that glass.”
Indeed, blending is a crucial phase in a labor of love and sublimation of a remarkable terroir that begins in the vineyard and continues in the cellars.


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