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COS Chronicle

The 2020 Harvest from the Cellar

INTERVIEW -

After joining Cos d’Estournel for the creation of Cos d’Estournel Blanc in 2007, Angélique Meynieu was appointed Cellar Master in 2017. She explains her role and shares her thoughts on this most uncommon vintage.

You have been at Cos d’Estournel since 2007 and were appointed Cellar Master in 2017. What is your role at this crucial time of year?

My role begins before the harvest, when we must prepare for the moment when the grapes enter our facilities. We must also ready our men and women. It is a question of anticipating everything in order for things to go smoothly.
During the harvest, my job is to fully comprehend the quality of our grapes so that we may understand and realize their potential. It is the greatest challenge I face!

Angélique - Vendanges 2017
What is a typical harvest day like for you?

The arrival of the grapes in our cellars sets the pace of the day, which comes to a close when the last harvest trailer has been emptied. Every morning Technical Director Dominique Arangoïts and I begin by taking stock of the vineyard. We ensure that everything went as expected during the night, that the vats are at the right temperature, that fermentation is going as planned . . . We also take the time to taste the juices in each vat and set up a schedule for the day. It’s a bit like generating a road map for the team. Our role is to guide everyone, answer any questions that may arise and ensure that all goes as well as possible.

The teams in the vat room and cellar are crucial at this time because it is up to them to sublimate the work that has been achieved in the vineyard. What is that like?

Each member of every team knows exactly what he or she is supposed to do. The harvest feels like a whirlwind, but not in a bad way. Rather, we feel a rush of adrenaline that increases throughout the day and doesn’t diminish until the last grapes have entered the cellars.
The grapes aren’t going to wait for us; whatever we do, we have to bring them into the cellars quickly. We need to know how to react. We also know that the grapes are the result of an entire year of labor on the part of our winegrowing team. We have a duty to them and to the owner of the estate. I have never felt this as strongly as I do at Cos, given the profound attachment of the teams to the estate and the loyal team of Spanish harvesters that has been coming to pick grapes at Cos since 1974.
There is a feeling of euphoria that arises from working towards the same goal, that of bringing the grapes into our cellars under the most ideal conditions to transform them into wine, once again in the best possible fashion.

Réception Vendanges
You work in ultramodern, highly advanced facilities that are entirely based on the laws of gravity. What are the most significant advantages for the wines of the estate?

My favorite part is the adrenaline. It pushes us to channel our best resources during the harvest. I also love to see how each vintage reveals itself little by little with each passing day. It is truly extraordinary to taste and experience the evolution of the different juices, until we finally reach that moment when we know we’ve made the wine that we were looking to make. Stress continues to drive us, for our work is not yet done. But these moments, when we sense that all of a year’s work has come together in a wine, are very special indeed!

Vendanges - Chai
What do you like most about the harvest at Cos d’Estournel?

My favorite part is the adrenaline. It pushes us to channel our best resources during the harvest. I also love to see how each vintage reveals itself little by little with each passing day. It is truly extraordinary to taste and experience the evolution of the different juices, until we finally reach that moment when we know we’ve made the wine that we were looking to make. Stress continues to drive us, for our work is not yet done. But these moments, when we sense that all of a year’s work has come together in a wine, are very special indeed!

Would you share a memorable moment or emotion that you associate with the harvest?

I think we all have specific memories of each vintage. In 2007, we were working in temporary facilities. 2008 was the first vintage to be crafted in our new gravity-flow vat room and cellars. 2009 was an atypical vintage, unusually potent and powerful. Every year has its own unforgettable personality.

But there are two moments during the harvest that always move me: when the first crate of grapes enters the cellars, for it signals the beginning, that we have prepared everything, that everyone is ready, and that two to three weeks of intense work will follow; and the last, when we watch as the crates of the final harvest trailer are emptied. We say to ourselves, “It’s all there. Everything that will go into the next vintage.” We know that our work is not done and that there are many things left to do. But we have already accomplished something. That is when the winemaking teams in the cellars take over.

Angélique #2 - Vendanges 2017
Finally, would you tell us about your role in the creation of Cos d’Estournel Blanc?

I joined Cos d’Estournel in 2007. Given my previous experience in white wine, it was only natural that I be entrusted with the estate’s white wine. For ten years, Cos d’Estournel Blanc felt like a child of mine. Producing white wine at Cos d’Estournel was a challenge from the start. It was a daring move for a Grand Cru Classé to seek to produce a fine white wine on a terroir in the northernmost reaches of the Médoc and to name it after the estate’s grand vin. We were driven by the vision of Michel Reybier, and today we grow white wine on 6.5 hectares of the estate’s vineyard.

Cos d’Estournel Blanc holds a special place among our wines. I feel proud that it is recognized by wine critics and appreciated by our loyal clients from one year to the next. And this is just the beginning. We will always look to attain better results and work more precisely, investing ourselves with even greater passion in all that we undertake. It was this same spirit that led us to create Pagodes de Cos Blanc, truly a worthy successor to Cos d’Estournel Blanc, in 2018.

Precision is one of the hallmarks of Cos. When I first arrived at the estate, Dominique Arangoïts instilled in me a desire to seek out the details. It is a fascinating journey, one that requires us to forever question ourselves and our methods as we seek to adapt to our singular terroir and each unforgettable vintage.


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