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COS Chronicle

The 2021 Vintage: Humility and Vigilance

ARTICLE -

Numerous challenges

Like the one before it, the 2021 growing season began with a rainy winter, but that is where the similarities between the two vintages end. These damp conditions were followed by consistently dry weather from mid-February to the end of April that allowed for early tilling of soils, so they could warm and prepare for bud break.
But the 2021 vintage—homogenous and precocious at first—then experienced cooler temperatures that slowed the growing cycle, aligning it with a much more conventional timetable, as compared to the decisively early 2020 vintage.

The first blossoms appeared on May 25 under ideal conditions, with hot, dry weather resulting in particularly qualitative, rapid flowering. Temperatures remained mild but humidity levels were high, fueling concerns about the health of the vines and the ripening of the grapes. Indeed, a certain level of water stress is necessary for skins and seeds to ripen, and the vineyard’s water reserves remained abundant through August 10.

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But various parameters proved crucial in allowing the men and women of Cos to compensate for these conditions. To begin with, the vineyard teams, forever present and vigilant, carried out targeted leaf thinning until late in the growing cycle—it was the first time since 2014 that leaf thinning was carried out so tardily—to increase exposure to the sun’s rays and foster the ripening of aromas while increasing air circulation to protect the grapes from disease.

The excellent location of the hill of Cos near the Gironde Estuary also proved primordial, for sea breezes limited the effects of humidity and reduced the risk of disease in the vineyard. The advanced age of the vines was also a determining factor, for they had had ample time to acclimatize to their terroir, which allowed them to adapt to a most unusual situation by responding more strongly to the dry weather that returned to the vineyard on August 10. At harvest, which took place from September 23 to October 7, tannins were wonderfully ripe.

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Relatively dry weather made it possible to wait for optimal levels of maturity before collecting the grapes on each plot.

Under these uncommon meteorological conditions, the vines planted on gravel and clay soils evolved in synchrony to deliver equally ripe Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The vines were perfectly healthy, thanks to the efforts of the estate’s winegrowers, who adapted their methods in the vineyard to the very end. As usual, the Merlot planted on the estate’s gravelly plateau was harvested first, for it tends to develop early, followed by the Merlot planted on clay soils, and the Cabernet Sauvignon. Relatively dry weather made it possible to wait for optimal levels of maturity before collecting the grapes on each plot.

The 2021 vintage’s Merlot is remarkably enticing, fruity, and rich, with a very noble expression, and its Cabernet Sauvignon, 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.


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