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COS Chronicle

“Magical!”

INTERVIEW -

La Réserve Paris – Hotel and Spa is lit with a soft winter glow as Gaëtan Lacoste invites us in to discover his world. Recently named Chef Sommelier at La Réserve Paris after serving as Chef Sommelier at Le Clarence at the age of twenty-two, Gaëtan Lacoste displays a surprising calm and modesty, given the potential within.
In a measured voice, he speaks about how he learned to love good food and wine and shares his most memorable impressions of wines and Cos d’Estournel.

Gaëtan, at what point did you realize that wine would play such an important role in your life?

I was lucky to have grown up in the Basque Country, where my family was in the restaurant business. When I was little, we lived above the restaurant and I spent a good deal of time scrambling around the tables! My parents educated me about flavors, they exposed me to the finer things in life, and they taught me how important it was to share this passion.
Wine came into my life some time later, thanks to Benoît Castillon, Chef Sommelier at the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz. After only a few minutes by his side, I knew wine was going to be my profession as well as a lifelong passion.

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As a young apprentice, which wines were you longing to taste?

When you are studying to become a sommelier, you spend more time reading about than tasting wines. For someone who is passionate about wines, those textbooks are like a journey into an enchanted forest peopled with characters—the likes of Petrus, Romanée-Conti, Haut-Brion, Cos d’Estournel, and Margaux—that  feed the imagination of wine-lovers. For me, it felt like a dream!

Do you remember the first time a wine awoke a strong emotion in you?

It was a Burgundy wine from Romanée-Conti, La Tâche 1999. It was magical. You immediately sensed how deeply intense, how supremely elegant it was. It was as if it had the power to stop time.

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When did you first encounter Cos d’Estournel ?

The first time I tasted Cos d’Estournel was at Cos d’Estournel! It was the first château I visited on my journey through the classified growths of Bordeaux. I was seventeen. I remember coming out of a bend in the road and seeing Cos appear. I had never seen architecture like that and I didn’t really understand what I was seeing, but I was fascinated.

That memory is all the more precious now that I have come full circle. At La Réserve Paris, I am fortunate enough to carry the best selection of Cos d’Estournel wines, including some fifty-odd vintages, available in all of Paris. We recently opened a Cos d’Estournel 1955 for a client and it was absolutely divine! With aromas of cedar and light tobacco and notes of saffron, it was full on the palate and delicate, having truly reached its purest form of expression.
When it comes to more recent vintages, the 2000 is dear to our hearts for it marks the start of a new chapter. Not only was it an exceptional vintage in Bordeaux, but it was also the year that Michel Reybier acquired Cos d’Estournel.

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"As if by magic, there is a touch of India in each glass of Cos d’Estournel."

The universe of Cos d’Estournel evokes faraway, exotic places. Does this speak to you as a sommelier?

Things fell into place for me when I joined La Réserve and saw the Spice Route, myriad aromas, India, and the estate’s rich history come together. Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel remains very important to me.
His story is the tale of a man driven by limitless ambition, who never abandoned a certain course of action and the project of a lifetime. He must have seemed crazy to his contemporaries, but he never gave up, even going as far as India to promote Cos d’Estournel. He returned to France passionate about the place, as is demonstrated by the estate’s enchanting architecture.

It is astonishing to see how this universe comes to life in the estate’s identity but also in its wines, with their notes of gentle spices and cardamom. As if by magic, there is a touch of India in each glass of Cos d’Estournel.

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You are fortunate enough to be working alongside Chef Jérôme Banctel. Which Cos d’Estournel wines would you recommend with his cuisine?

Jérôme Banctel is an exceptional chef who is devoted to working with seasonal products. Hunting season began a few months ago, so we are serving a beautiful, gently roasted venison with dates and a venison juice reduction that is outstanding with a Cos d’Estournel 2000.
We also offer the famous Duck Apicius, a tribute to Monsieur Senderens. It is rubbed and marinated with coriander, caraway, fennel, pepper, and cumin and makes a marvelous companion to a Cos d’Estournel 2005.

With older vintages, like the 1955, we can go beyond more classic pairings and seek something more unexpected, like a red mullet with a liver sauce and a Mediterranean condiment.

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What would you recommend with Cos d’Estournel Blanc?

These days we often pair Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2017 with scallops, for it is the height of the scallop season. Jérôme Banctel selects beautiful diver scallops that he sears quickly, leaving their center nearly raw, and serves them with a citron condiment that wonderfully highlights the exotic aromas of Cos d’Estournel Blanc.

It is a privilege to work with a chef trained by Alain Senderens, Senderens being the chef who went the furthest in his exploration of wine and food pairings. Jérôme Banctel is very open-minded. We taste frequently and engage in a daily dialogue that is incredibly enriching.

To conclude, what commonalities do you see between Cos d’Estournel and La Réserve Paris?

I believe that Michel Reybier’s ambition, which he pursues with unparalleled discretion and refinement, is to be as precise and as perfect as possible in all that he undertakes. This is also a hallmark of Cos d’Estournel, which counts among the most legendary estates in Bordeaux and in the world, and at La Réserve Paris, where we also seek the most exacting standards of excellence.

It is not a simple coincidence that both properties share a common symbol, the elephant!

© Julie Limont

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