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COS Chronicle

An Estate and Its Bestiary

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Doves, dragons and oxen

The crest of Cos d’Estournel rises above the monumental gate through which visitors pass before entering the chateau. It is borne by a fierce lion in a menacing and protective stance, a classic architectural symbol that reminds inhabitants of the authority, dignity, strength, and ferocity of the king of beasts. In a surprising contrast, the lion is seconded by a unicorn, a charming, gentle-eyed symbol of joy, purity, and healing. And so it is that under these precious stone auspices, these omens of good fortune, visitors embark upon their discovery of Cos d’Estournel.

As their gazes are drawn up to the main pagoda, the doves and dragons carved around its openings invite their spirits and souls to run free, inspired by sacred treasures and celestial mysteries that mirror the alchemy behind the transformation of the estate’s grapes into wine. The line between reality and myth blurs, as the doves—innocent and immaculate—seem to temper the fearful yet protective ire of the mighty dragons.

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Like a grounding force for these mythical, magical aspirations, the farm animals that greatly contributed to the development of Cos continue to assert a discreet presence. From the facade of the former stables, a small army of oxen—benevolent, tranquil, and strong—stands watch, recalling their solid, hardworking ancestors, essential allies in the vineyard until the advent of agricultural machinery.

Sculpted on a basin on the garden wall, a kindly, placid ram observes Cos, as if to bestow upon the estate the fiery spirit, determination, strength, and fertility that it symbolizes. Even the mule—diligent and stubborn—now long gone from the stables, humbly manifests itself in the name of a plot at the heart of the vineyard. “The Six Sadons of the Mule” alludes to a past when muleteers and their teams of animals were responsible for covering scores of sadons, an ancient unit of measurement for an area the length of 200 vine plants and the width of 100 vine plants.

Finally, like a transition between past and present, across the road in fields overlooking the estate’s vines, cows graze alongside a stream, a pastoral reminder of ancient cousins who once graced the place with their presence.

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The elephants of Cos are its guardian angels and good-luck charms.

This magnificent bestiary would not be complete without the elephants of Cos d’Estournel, its stunning, strange emblems, symbol of the Eastern influences so dear to the estate’s founder Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel. Watchful and protective, elephants appear everywhere: in the gardens, in the cellars, and throughout the residence.
They are sculpted from stone, wood, and boxwood; woven into damask; and stylized on the estate’s logo. Even the massive wooden door from Zanzibar evokes the colossal creatures, for it is covered in nails that once served to protect its wooden panels from passing herds of elephants. Symbols of intelligence, strength, wisdom, longevity, fertility, and independence, the elephants of Cos are its guardian angels and good-luck charms.

Finally, Cos would be nothing without the wildlife that imbues the vineyard with vital energy. Its hedges are filled with songbirds, raptors, field mice, rabbits, and hares, its woods with wild boar and deer, and insects thrive throughout.
These discreet yet essential elements of the estate’s bestiary are championed and protected by the men and women of Cos, who, like Louis-Gaspard, are only too aware of just how fundamental they are.


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