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A Trio of 100pt scores!
The 2016 Cos d'Estournel is blended of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc aged in 65% new and 35% two-year-old French oak for 15 months. Bottled in July 2018, it is deep garnet-purple colored and starts off a little closed and reticent, opening out slowly and seductively to reveal beautiful lilacs, rose hip tea, crushed stones and camphor nuances over a core of crème de cassis, kirsch, wild blueberries and mocha plus wafts of incense and wood smoke. The palate is simply electric, charged with an energy and depth of flavors that seem to defy the elegance and ethereal nature of its medium-bodied weight, featuring super ripe, densely pixelated tannins that firmly frame the myriad of fruit and floral sparks, finishing with epic length. Just. Magic.
“Rains on 13th September helped finish the ripening in 2016," winemaker Dominique Arangoits informed me. “There was a little water stress here on the young vines,” he confessed. “It was very important not to overreact to the wet conditions in June, not to de-leaf too much. We have to be more careful than in the past. It was not a very early vintage, but we had to be careful with the Merlot and not to harvest too late. It was very important to keep the fruit and the energy in the wines. In the end, we didn’t even need to fine the wines—this was only the second vintage for this. We started in 2015. In 2017 we will probably not need to fine either. We have our own bottling line, so we have control.” Arangoits and his team nailed it in 2016. It is also important to highlight that the transformation at Cos d’Estournel since Michel Reybier purchased the château in 2000 is simply incredible. Reybier’s considerable efforts since then in the vineyards and the winery are remarkable. What he has achieved has not only helped to bring the estate up to its true potential but also instilled a pretty impressive batting record when it comes to consistency of quality. Readers may want to check out my dedicated article on this estate, also published this issue, with a look at vintages 2000-2015. ~100WA
This is muscular yet so well defined and toned. Full-bodied with deep and dense fruit on the palate, yet powerful and rich at the same time. So much sandalwood and blackberry character. Chewy and rich at the finish. This is a warm and generous wine, but the alcohol is just over 13 degrees. Not that high. Love the finish. Extravagant. Magical. Try from 2025. ~100JS
The 2016 Cos d’Estournel was a bona fide showstopper out of barrel, the best that I had encountered in over 20 years of visiting the estate during en primeur, so my expectations were piled high when I returned to find out how it performs in bottle. Deep, almost opaque in color, it sports a very intense but broody bouquet with fathomless deep black fruit tinged with blueberry and violet. The aromas almost seem to envelop the senses. The palate is medium-bodied with ultra-fine tannin that I have never witnessed in any other vintage of Cos d’Estournel. There is a beguiling symmetry to this Saint-Estèphe, as well as unerring mineralité. The persistent, tobacco-tinged finish can be felt 60 second after the wine has departed. This is a monumental, benchmark Cos d’Estournel that will give not years but decades of pleasure, though I suspect it will close down for a period in its youth, hence my drinking window. 13.07% alcohol. ~100VM
The grand vin 2016 Cos d'Estournel checks in as 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 1% Cabernet Franc that saw 70% new French oak. One of the more seamless, pure, elegant versions of this cuvée out there, it boasts a saturated purple color as well as a monster nose of pure crème de cassis, gravelly, rocky minerality, tobacco leaf, crushed violets, and lead pencil shavings. One of those “iron fists in a velvet glove” wines, with full-bodied richness and beautiful structure that’s covered by thrilling levels of fruit and texture, it stays tight, compact, and incredibly focused on the palate. It’s already brilliant given its purity of fruit and balance, but it deserves a decade of bottle age and will keep for 4-5 decades. ~99JD
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