An Interview with the President of Cos d’Estournel

March 3rd, 2012

The 2009 Cos d’Estournel is one of the wines of Bordeaux’s legendary vintage. I scored it a perfect 100 points and it was my Wine of the Year in 2011. I asked Cos president Jean-Guillaume Prats 10 questions about his phenomenal 2009.

1. What is so very special about the 2009 Cos d'Estournel?

It is a very impressive wine, and even at such a very young age, it gives immediate pleasure with an extra dimension of depth and complexity. It is a wine of high alcohol content, high tannin levels and high acidity. Therefore, the three elements counter-balance each other and produce balance and harmony. We at Cos were very fortunate to have at the same time, in the same hand, all the elements that would help us to produce such an extraordinary wine: mother nature (with perfect vintage conditions); a detailed understanding of our terroir with very severe parcel definitions; a new cellar with the use of the flow of gravity and maturity; and cohesion of the team both in the vineyards and in the cellar.

2. Why is the 2009 Cos such a success?

Simply the fact that 2009 is one of the legendary vintages of Bordeaux, and Cos ‘09 is one of the successes of this vintage. All wine lovers or aficionados have in mind that Petrus 1982, among others for example, is a legendary wine for the same reason.

3. Is it the best modern vintage of Cos? Why? Better than 2003?

Yes I would put 2003 with 2005 and 2010 Cos just behind.

4. What older vintage do you compare 2009 Cos to?

1870, or more recently the 1982.

5. What in the growing season in 2009 made the Cos such an amazing wine? 

No excess of weather from the previous winter to the last day of harvest. We have had rain or sun or cold or warm temperatures exactly when needed, as if God wanted to be very kind to us.

6. How did the new winery at Cos enable you to make such a great wine?

The riper the fruit is, the more fragile it is. The use of the flow of gravity during the fermenting process and during the maceration helps to keep the purity of the fruit and the definition of the tannins.

7. Explain how a wine with such relatively high alcohol (about 14.8%) can maintain such freshness?

Low pH (strength of acidity), which means high acidity back up with a very high level of tannins. This is one of the successes of Bordeaux over time with the help of our maritime climate.

8. Some people say the 2009 Cos is New World in style, overly rich and over extracted. What is your response? 

I can understand that it is a controversial wine. I would not be surprised at all if wines such as Margaux 1900, Cheval 1947, Mouton 1945, or Palmer 1961 would have thought to be “excessive” as well immediately after bottling.

9. When do you think the best time to drink the 2009 Cos will be?

I really believe that it will last forever like the 1870, and it will simply go through different stages during its lifetime.

10. Do you think the 2009 Cos will age as well as some of the great classics of Cos from the 1920s, 1940s and 1950s?

I would compare it eventually to 1870 and 1928.

Click here to watch the Three Questions video I did with Jean-Guillaume Prats last year.


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