A word of admiration and praise is in order for Bruno Prats. One of St.-Estephe`s most forward thinking producers, Prats is never content with merely making outstanding wine. Over the last few years he has improved Cos d`Estournel, already one of the great wines of Bordeaux, by eliminating any filtration at bottling, and replacing the standard paper label with one made of plastic so it will not disintegrate in damp, humid cellars. Additionally, the quality of his wines in such difficult vintages as 1992 and 1993 has been remarkable. Readers should also note that a second wine, the beautifully packaged Les Pagodes de Cos, has been implemented with the 1994 vintage. It appears to be a fine second wine. While tasting through Cos d`Estournel`s wines, it was interesting to taste the unfiltered 1994 against the same cuvee of wine that was put through the normal filtration. The filtered cuvee was an excellent wine (I rated it 88), but as Bruno Prats and several other people at the tasting could easily see, it had less opacity, color, and aromatic interest, and far less volume and mid-palate. Most Bordeaux chateaux continue to do too much fining and filtering, but some of the more seriously run estates are curtailing the most abusive clarification procedures, and are finally opening their minds to the negative impact too much fining and filtration can cause. Sadly, most of my colleagues have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the standard response from oenologists and producers on this issue ... "fining and filtration have no effect on a wine."
Château Cos d’Estournel is a revered, first rate winery in St- Estéphe though it was classified a Second Growth in 1855. The château itself is one of the most recognizable in all of Bordeaux, as it sits atop a ridge, resembles an opulent Asian pagoda and neighbors with Lafite Rothschild. In old Gascon, Cos translates to ‘the hill of stones’ which describes its gravely, limestone, well drained terroir. Though it is predominantly Merlot based, atypical for wines of Médoc, the wines are full-bodied, tannic, deeply complex and ageable.
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