Cos it’s a Monday!
Author: Simon Staples
Monday 16th June – We had what can only be described as wine ‘enlightenment’ this week – truly one of the greatest evenings of my twenty years in the wine trade.
I used the excuse of having the always insightful and enigmatic Jean-Guillaume Prats, Managing Director of Château Cos d’Estournel dropping by, to raid the family reserves (Simon Berry fully aware!) and have a blind tasting with a few wine-loving clients.
We kicked off with some barrel samples of the 2007 Ch. Cos d’Estournel. More soft, rich, seductive and down right sexy than it was in April, this is going to be an anomaly, an early drinking Cos that will give great pleasure over the next 10/15 yrs.
To wash down its ripe, fine tannins we then indulged in a glass of my favourite NV champagne at the moment, Gosset Grand Reserve and to accompany the amuse bouche and starter, we had a stunning 2002 Meursault Goutte D’or from Dominique Lafon. Absolutely brilliant, it was concentrated and yielding with lovely precise minerality and great length. On any other night it would have won the Oscar…hands down. Not tonight.
Berrys’ Fine Wine Commercial Manager Mark Ross and I excused ourselves from the table to organise the evening’s centre pieces. A brace of both the 1870 and 1945 Ch. Cos d’Estournel. These bottles had not moved from the BBR family vault since their arrival some 130 and 50 years ago. After three days standing, the levels on the 1870’s were mid shoulder and the 1945‘s top shoulder as would be expected of wines this old. I was more excited than nervous as we cracked the seals open and the corks came out like I’d imagine opening a tomb, with a discernable sigh as the wine inhaled! We carefully decanted them, nosed and took a tiny hesitant sip. Were they alive? Corked? Maderised? Revolting?
Blimey! Not just hanging in there, but bursting to get out with a vibrancy that was totally unbelievable. Astonished we contemplated telling our guests they were corked and quaffing the lot ourselves but the joy of the moment made us want to share the experience which is probably the best thing about great wine. You want to share it.
We whizzed the 1870 around the table of 10, nervous that the huge gulp of air it had taken might prove too much. I didn’t need to worry. Then for that sublime smug moment. “Ok then…what year are we looking at?” A question I’m asked only too often. All our guests that night were more than experienced in vinous matters… a firm and confident “70!” was called…Good Lord! But before I could accuse my guest of blatant cheating and sneaking a peek he quantified his guess “No, it’s younger than that…and a great wine…1982!!”
Phew! Good job I hadn’t waded in with usual Staples decorum. A few other guesses of 82…1982! One 1989. Hang on, a 1959 from my right hand. All eyes to our guest of honour, Jean-Guillaume Prats. “No, it’s much older, 1928 or 29?” The time taken mulling things over had allowed the wine to evolve beautifully. The colour would have made me think 1960 or 1970, the nose, though a tad sepulchre at first was sweet and seductive. On the palate it was sweeter still, had beautiful balance and sublime intensity.
If I had a drum kit, and the ability to play them, a drum roll was in order. As I announced it there was a stunned silence for about 10 seconds (from a group not known for such things!) then an outpouring of amazement. Brilliant. The second bottle was just a fraction behind in quality and within an hour of being in the glass the old statement had expired…but what an hour!
The 1945 Ch. Cos d’Estournel was stunning too. Sadly they were on to me and guesses of 1947/49 came in very swiftly so I had to fess up. I think because it followed such an astonishing experience, the simply sublime 1945 was not given the reverence it deserved. Still stunned we moved on to one of my all time (obtainable!) faves, Ch. Cos d’Estournel 1985. Such primary fruit in comparison to its predecessors was a shock.
A brilliant bottle of 2001 Ch. de Fargues (a poor man’s 2001 Ch. d’Yquem) washed down a small pud and we then headed home with huge smiles on every face. I had emails of thanks from all attendees just reiterating what an astonishing wine moment it was. Some said they got home and just sat reflecting over such a glorious event.
When I got home I checked my stock of 2005 Ch. Cos d’Estournel to check my future drinking…I MIGHT see the full potential of the bottles, I just hope my great, great, great grandchildren enjoy the Magnums and Double Mags!
I love my job!