Simple palates, Seriously


14th May 2011

Melbourne Food & Wine Festival, Acqua Panna Global Wine Experience

Chateau Cos D'Estournel & The Super Second Sweet Spot of Bordeaux

With a panel comprising of Jean-Guillame Prat - Director of Cos D'Estournel,  Andrew Caillard MW, and David Clarke, we tasted three bracket of wines. There was the usual interest in the vintage conditions for 2010, and comparing it to 2009. Also unavoidable was the discussion of the high prices of current vintage Bordeaux with no ceiling in sight. I will not elaborate on these points since in-depth discussions can be found on other sites. Instead, I present the tasting notes of the wines served on the day. Interestingly, there were several wines within the lower price range (~$25, Durandal) that will suit the average wine drinker.


Bracket 1
Durandal Bordeaux Superior 2009 (barrel sample), Cotes de Castillon
Screwcap for the Australian market. This single estate youthful wine has focussed dense aromas of ripe plum skins, aniseed, pencil shavings and earthy hints. Dry, full-bodied with an even slate of smooth velvet tannins and med+ acidity. Broad, chocolatey plum flavours with a long fruity finish. Drink now - 2016+. 90+/100. Will retail for approx $25.

Durandal St Emilion Grand Cru 2009 (barrel sample), St Emilion
Fruit from a 25 year old vineyard. Lovely generous perfume, uplifting wafts of summer ripe yellow plum with earthy notes. Dry, med+-full bodied wine with pronounced dry, chalky tannins. Lovely acidity and bright fruit flavours but a bit short on the finish. Drink now - 2020. 89-90/100.

Chateau La Garraliere St Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classe 2008, St Emilion
Enticing youthful nose with hints of fresh grass, baked chocolate, dense red berry fruit, peppercorns and earthy mocha. Dry, full-bodied wine that is fruity with rich plum flavours, dry tannins and med+ acidity. Nice medium-length finish. Drink now - 2012. 90+/100.

Chateau Angelus 1er Grand Cru 2006, St Emilion
Initially a subdued nose compared to the La Garraliere although the similarities are there. A nice wine but the fruit feels stomped into a densely packed brew (88-89). A while later, there is lovely perfume, Turkish delight, dense berry / plum fruit. Quite elegant, the fruit is emerging, creeping around the mouth but the finish is still quite short for my liking. 91/100.

Jean-Guillame described Hubert Dubois and Angelus as one of the great avant garde practices in Bordeaux. In the mid-80s following the emergence of California and Australia as significant wine producing regions with their investments in research and improved vineyard practice, he started reducing yields to ~30hL/hec by green harvesting which led to fruit with more sugar, more tannins and higher acidity. To improve vine ventilation and combat botrytis, pruning was such that leaves were exposed to the sun in July on the West side lasting till end August. 

Chateau La Gaffaliere St Emilion 1er Grand Cru Classe 2000, St Emilion


Bracket 2
Les Pagodes de Cos 2007, St Estephe
Fruit from 8-20 year old vines. Dull fruit on the nose with scant florals and a cotton-candy residual. Med-bodied wine with resolved low tannins. 85/100.

Les Pagodes de Cos 2002, St Estephe
Small quantities produced with the dry winds towards the end of vintage helping to reduce the water content of the small berries in this difficult year. A lovely, rich and fruity nose with uplifting spicy plum notes but there is a hollow core down the centre. Smooth textured, ripe acidity with soft dry tannins. A reasonable finish. Drink now. 86/100.

Cos D'Estournel 2008, St Estephe
This is the first vintage that pumping over was replaced with the gravity flow system. Young latent aromas with dense blackberry, red currants, baked honey sponge cake and a hint of Indian spice in the background. Dry, full-bodied wine with smooth texture and sleek rich berry fruit flavours with complexity that has yet to unfold. Pure wine. Drink 2015 - 2030. 94-95/100.

Cos D'Estournel 2005, St Estephe
A bold rich nose of ripe blackberry fruit, plum skins, hint of the aging Cabernet. silky smooth texture, dry and full-bodied, ripe acidity and lovely plush dark berry fruit without going over the top. Brilliant adolescent-like personality, lively. Drink now - 2035+. 97+/100.

Cos D'Estournel 2001, St Estephe
Your prototype traditional Cos. A bold upfront nose, only a hint of aging Cabernet on the nose, rich blackberry and plum fruit with a hint of strapping leather. Masculine wine, a load of oomph in the mouth, high acidity, tannins are still prominent but slowly resolving. Meaty fruit flavours with body and character. Slight sedimentation. Still young, drink now - 2030+. 95+/100.


Bracket 3 (Bordeaux 2006, single-blind)
Overall, the 2006 Bordeaux wines are currently very tight and swath with prominent tannins. They will generally be long lived wines with good depth of fruit but will need a further 5-7 years to come together. Jean-Guillame commented that it's a vintage that is difficult to enjoy early, very tannic and the 07s 08s are more accessible and sexy right now.

Chateau Figeac Premier Grand Cru Classe B 2006, St Emilion
Along with Cheval Blanc, one of the Medoc-like wineries with their high use of cabernet (~40%, sauvignon and franc). An old-style fine with great wines produced in late harvest vintages. The responsibilities of Thierry Manoncourt who passed away in 2010 now lie with his son-in-law Eric d'Aramon. Youthful uplifting aromas of violet, spicy blackcurrants and crushed dark chocolate. A dry, full-bodied wine with high acidity and powdery tannins. Rich blackcurrant flavours dominate with a meaty blood-tinged end-taste. A soft finish. Drink now - 2025. 91+/100.

Prieure-Lichine 4th growth 2006, Margaux
Near the village of Cantenac, this is a large estate that produces wines that are easy to drink but don't age so well. Comparable to Brane-Cantenac. The consulting oenologist is Stephane Derenoncourt. A developing nose that is dense definite aging cabernet sauvignon and blackberry fruit. Dry, full-bodied with lacy loose knit tannins. Some fruit with nice depth. Drink now - 2017. 88/100.

Leoville-Poyferre 2nd growth 2006, St Julien
A Michel Rolland wine, it is the modern voluptuous Right Bank wine. Uplifting and generous perfume that is enticing and elegant. Aromas of blackcurrants, cassis, violets and dark chocolate with earthy warmth. Dry, fullbodied wine with high acidity and powdery tannins. Rich, ripe blackcurrant fruit that is persistent on the lovely finish Drink now - 2020+. 93/100.

Pichon-Baron 2nd growth 2006, Pauillac
Situated opposite Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de LaLande and owned by AXA. A wine made mainly from cabernet sauvignon and in an austere style. Soft perfume of fresh blackcurrant fruit, cedar and cigar box hints. Dry, full-bodied with high acidity, rich blackcurrant flavours with hint of florals and black earth. Fine grained tannins. Long finish. Drink 2015 - 2030. 92/100.

Cos D'Estournel 2006 2nd growth, St Estephe
Forward, uplifting nose with obvious aging cabernet sauvignon, dark berry fruit and oddly, unripe flour. Dry full-bodied wine that is definitely masculine in nature with its brusk big palate of ripe dark berry fruit flavours. Robust tannins initially to prop up the big flavours but these fade off nicely. Drink 2017 - 2030. 92/100.


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