Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Massive Château Cos d’Estournel Vertical with Aymeric de Gironde, Managing Director of Cos d’Estournel, and Panos Kakaviatos at Restaurant Ripple in Washington DC

Picture: Christian Schiller, Aymeric de Gironde, Managing Director of Cos d’Estournel, and Annette Schiller at Restaurant Ripple in Washington DC

For the past years, Panos Kakaviatos - based in Strasbourg, France - has organized a Grand Bordeaux Tasting in Washington DC at the beginning of the year, when he spends a few weeks in his hometown. This year’s Washington DC Grand Bordeaux Tasting featured a massive Château Cos d’Estournel Vertical with Aymeric de Gironde, MD of Cos d’Estournel, at Restaurant Ripple.

Picture: Restaurant Ripple in Washington DC

Panos Kakaviatos is a highly respected Bordeaux expert, who regularly writes for the Decanter, Harpers Wine & Spirits – two excellent UK based wine magazines - and other wine publications.

The company was terrific and included: Dave McIntyre (Washington Post), Mark Wessels (MacArthur Beverages), Ben Giliberti (Calvert Woodley), Michael Sands (Calvert Woodley), to name a few.

For this posting, my wife Annette Schiller, ombiasyPR and WineTours, and I split up the work: Annette provided the tasting notes and I did the rest.

Picture: Annette Schiller Taking Notes

As it stands, Annette’s forthcoming Wine Tour by ombiasy WineTours to Bordeaux in September later this year will include a visit of and tasting at Château Cos d’Estournel with Aymeric de Gironde. If you are interested in joining us, contact Annette ( or me (

See here: Announcement: 5 Exciting ombiasy WineTours in 2016 - BURGUNDY BORDEAUX GERMANY

Ripple's Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley created a lovely dinner to match the wines, which were served three-by-three for each of the five courses. The vintages were as follows: 2012, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000 (magnum), 1996, 1995, 1989, 1985 and 1982.

We began the evening with an excellent Champagne, a new item in the expanding portfolio of Michel Reybier, the owner of Château Cos d’Estournel, just introduced on the market, and from grand cru vineyards.

Picture: Michel Reybier Champagne

The Cos tasting started with the second to youngest Château Cos d’Estournel and went back in time, so that by the time we got to the duck breast, we enjoyed the 1989, 1985 and 1982. But for the cheeses we had 2012, 2010 and 2009. That way, we went back to the future.

Picture: Champagne Reception

Château Cos d`Estournel

Château Cos d`Estournel in the Saint-Estèphe appellation is named after its 19th century owner, Louis-Gaspard d'Estournel, and it was he who built the bizarre oriental edifice that is a landmark for any tourist in the Médoc. The name Cos refers to a "hill of pebbles" in Gascon dialect.

From a 100 hectare estate, the vineyard area extends 70 hectares, divided into 30 parcels, and primarily composed of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, with minor cultivation of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The annual production is typically 32,000 cases. Cos wines tend to have a higher blend of Merlot than other classified Left Bank wines.

Château Cos d'Estournel was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus in the Classification of 1855.

Château Cos d'Estournel produces the eponymous grand vin, the second wine since the 1994 vintage, Les Pagodes de Cos from the estate's younger vines, as well as Château Marbuzet from fruit of nearby plots.

Pictures: Reception - Bijan Jabbari, Annette Schiller, Michael Besche, Karen Taylor, Dave McIntyre (Washington Post) and Cathrine Todd (New York)

Louis Gaspard d’Estournel

Born in 1762 during the reign of Louis XV and died in1853 under Napoleon III, at the remarkable age of 91, Louis Gaspard d’Estournel had one sole passion: Cos.

Having inherited a few vines near the village of Cos, he recognized, in 1811, the quality of their wine and decided to vinify them separately.

Very rapidly, Cos d’Estournel’s wine exceeded the prices of the most prestigious wines and was exported as far as India.

Louis became known as ‘the Maharajah of Saint-Estèphe’. To celebrate his distant conquests, he had exotic pagodas erected over his cellar, organized spectacular festivities at Cos and presented the great people of this world with some precious bottles of Cos “Returned from India”.

Pictures: Massive Château Cos d’Estournel Vertical with Aymeric de Gironde, Managing Director of Cos d’Estournel, and Panos Kakaviatos at Restaurant Ripple in Washington DC

Various Owners

The estate has changed hands several times during its history. In 1852, overwhelmed with debts he had accumulated in order to extend and beautify his estate, Louis Gaspard d’Estournel was obliged to sell Cos to the London banker Charles Cecil Martyns. In 1869, it was sold to the Spanish Errazu family only to be sold again 20 years later in 1889 to the Bordeaux-based Hostein family. Through his marriage to Marie-Thérèse Hostein, Louis-Victor Charmolue, who also owned Château Montrose, gained control of Cos d'Estournel in 1894. In 1917, it was sold to Fernand Ginestet and remained in the Ginestet family, becoming in 1970 part of Domaines Prats, the combined holdings of the Ginestet and Prats families, and controlled by Bruno Prats.
Since 2000, Château Cos d’Estournel belongs to Michel Reybier.

Picture: Panos Kakaviatos and Annette Schiller

Michel Reybier

The trashier echelons of the French press used to refer to Michel Reybier as l’ancien roi du saucisson — “the old sausage king”, as he is the very private, Swiss-domiciled founder of the French conglomerate Groupe Aoste, purveyor of Cochonou processed ham, Justin Bridou mini-salamis and César Moroni chorizo. The group was sold to Sara Lee in 1996 and Michael Reybier has since diversified into healthcare, biotech, oil, wine and hotels: … Cochonou, Aoste, Justin Bridou... Jusqu'en 1996, Michel Reybier était le patron de ces marques bien connues. Depuis, sa trace n'est pas toujours aisée à suivre. Ses propriétés les plus connues sont un grand vignoble, le Cos d'Estournel, dont le cru 95 se vend à 150 euros la bouteille, et de prestigieux hôtels (La Réserve à Genève). Mais on le retrouve également à la tête du conseil d'administration de Pebercan, une société cotée au Canada mais dont l'unique client est la République de Cuba, dont elle exploite les ressources pétrolières.

Michel Reybier a également un temps été actionnaire majoritaire d'Occade Sport, une société de marketing et d'événementiel sportif, et gravite dans les milieux sportifs lyonnais, grâce à Reybier & Partners Investment. Via une société de droit luxembourgeois, la Company Morasto Jalop, il est aussi administrateur d'entreprises françaises, comme la Saint Tropez Airport Services.

Pictures: Aymeric de Gironde and Annette Schiller

Aymeric de Gironde

Born in 1972, coming from a family of growers and cognac distillers for seven generation, Aymeric de Gironde was educated in Bordeaux in the International Program of the Bordeaux Business School. In 1996, it was quite naturally that Aymeric de Gironde took off to the United States to be responsible for the promotion of the House of Cognac Hennessy. After spending 1 year going across the country, Aymeric decided to stay in New York for the wine and spirits importer Schieffelin & Somerset (joint venture between LVMH and Diageo) as responsible for the distribution for New York. In 2001, following his experience in the US, Aymeric comes back to France with the responsibility of developing, at the European level, a new brand from Hennessy. Then in 2003, still within the LVMH Group, Aymeric joined the Champagne House Krug as International Business Development Director, focusing mainly on the European and American markets. In 2006, Aymeric de Gironde joined the AXA Group as International Sales Director for all AXA Millésimes vineyards, among which the prestigious Château Pichon Longueville Baron in Pauillac, Château Suduiraut in Sauternes or Quinta do Noval in Portugal.

Aymeric de Gironde is now CEO of Domaines Reybier that includes in Saint-Estèphe Château Cos d’Estournel, Château Marbuzet, but also the Imperial Estate of Tokaj Hétszölö and the new high end brand, Goulée in Médoc.

The Menu

lamb heart tartare
pickled mustard seed, caper, focaccia
First flight: 2008, 2006, 2004.

crispy glazed sweetbreads
celery salad, radicchio
Second flight: 2005, 2003, 2002.

potato gnocchi
wild boar ragu, rutabaga, apples
Third flight: 2000, 1996, 1995.

la belle farms duck breast
foie gras grits, baby hakurei turnips
Forth flight: 1989, 1985, 1982.

aged gouda
date jam, ginger snaps
Fifth flight: 2012, 2010, 2009.

Ripple's Executive Chef Marjorie Meek-Bradley

The Wines

Tasting notes by Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours.

Here is an overview of the tasting:

David McIntyre (Washington Post): “The wines we tasted at Ripple consistently showed Cos d’Estournel’s style and terroir. Each vintage displayed flavors of dark fruits — blackberries and currants — with curry spice of fenugreek and cardamom. Age added mushrooms and soy sauce, the umami of well-matured wine.”

Picture: Before the Tasting

Kevon Shin (Grand Jury Europeen): “The wines were very youthful and showed excellent concentrations. Almost all wines showed a hint of Cabernet green and lead pencil. The wines up to 2000 seemed more classic. Starting in 2002, the wines were riper and more concentrated. Very ripe and youthful fruit expression as well as somewhat straightforward overall expression reminded me Leoville Las Cases a bit.”

Annette Schiller: For me personally this tasting proved me right that it is a crime to drink the Bordeaux wines too early. The true character only develops with age. It needs patience to wait but it is all worth it and the reward is phenomenal.

First Flight: 2008, 2006, 2004

2008 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

At 85%, the 2008 has a high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, with 13% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Aymeric de Gironde: “In cold years, such as 2008, 2006 and 2004, the wines are shy. They don’t want to show themselves right away.”

Restrained nose with some hints of cassis, warm spices and flowers. On the palate, excellent concentration with dense tannins. Creamy finish. Still a baby I would love to re-taste the wine in 10 years.

2006 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot.

Aymeric de Gironde: “The 2006 was undrinkable at first, and we thought, ‘uh-oh,’ but it calmed down a year ago, and it should age well. Those who know Cos will find the spice and length the wine is known for.”
Attack of coffee, leather and cassis notes on the nose. Concentrated on the palate with firm, attractive tannins. Muscular body. Still very raw.

2004 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.

Aymeric de Gironde: “The 2004s were not welcomed here in the United States. But after five years, they began to open up.”

A wine from an underrated vintage that is developing well. Notes of sweet truffles, red fruits, cassis and mushrooms on the nose. Vibrant on the palate with wet earth and tobacco aromas. The most accessible wine in the flight.

Second Flight: 2005, 2003, 2002

2005 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc.

Aymeric de Gironde: “The 2005 was a dream vintage. It was sunny when it was supposed to be sunny, and it rained when it was supposed to rain. If you can find any Bordeaux from 2005, you should buy it.”

Aymeric de Gironde: “Although it is a ripe wine with very good concentration, is still very much closed”.

It opened up in the glass. A bit of “pipi de chat” on the nose but also cassis, lavender and wet earth. Brilliant on the palate, showed dense complexity with concentrated and elegant aromas and beautifully integrated sweet tannins. Aymeric called this wine a wine for forever and I agree. It might have an eternal life. The bit awkward nose at the first sniff dissipated after the wine was in the glass for a while.

2003 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.

2003 was the year of the heat wave in France, which lasted 15 days and during which several people died. Of cause, it also caused a lot of issues with the wines made that year. But this one here is simply amazing. At first approach, an exotic impression, notes of clove, earth, vanilla, incense on the nose. It is incredible balanced and quite approachable now, smooth on the palate, with coffee, eucalyptus and bitter chocolate aromas. A dark and rich wine.

2002 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

58% of Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot.

Americ de Gironde: “This wine was made from extremely low yields of only 32 hectoliters per hectare.”
This is a phenomenal wine, very precise, very smooth with good acidity on the palate, and an everlasting aftertaste. Beautiful cassis and currants on the nose with hints of leather and pepper. This wine clearly outperformed the 05 and 03.

Third Flight: 2000, 1996, 1995

2000 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.

Aymeric de Gironde: “Starting in 2000, Cos and other wineries lowered yields from 60 hectoliters per hectare to about 45 hectoliters per hectare and the wines became more intense.”

This wine came from a magnum bottle. Cassis, attack of blackberries, coffee and Indian spices on the nose. Fine and soft tannins on the palate. Very harmonious and round. Perfect for drinking now.

1996 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot. 60% new barrels.

Dark, intense color in the glass. Red fruit on the nose coupled with green pepper, tobacco, roses and leather. Long on the palate with silky tannins, bright acidity and fruity aromas. All in all a very muscular wine. It showed some maturity, and is perfect now, absolutely delicious, and with a long finish.

1995 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 100% new barrels.

Aymeric de Gironde called this the “year of the experiment”, because the wine was aged entirely in new oak.
This wine also showed some maturity, but was somehow very different than the 96. The nose presented a glorious roasted chestnut character, some cocoa, and menthol. Concentrated on the palate, full bodied, intense, layers of plum and cassis coupled with Asian spices. The sweet tannins, relatively low acidity, and new oak made for a smoother wine than the 96.

Fourth Flight: 1989, 1985, 1982

1989 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 95% new oak barrels.

An exceptional year with the earliest harvesting of the century.

Intense, deep color, coming from the Cos terroir. Complex aromas of burnt wood, spices, coffee and ripe fruits on the nose. Full and persistent in the mouth with nicely integrated tannins and earth, charcoal, cedar and coffee notes. Long finish.

1985 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 100% new oak barrels.

A hot dry summer. September and October had intense sunshine.

A color only slightly developed. Perfumed nose with flowers, red fruit and vanilla notes. Fleshy, rich with refined tannins on the palate. Long, crisp finis. Very pleasant today.

1982 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 70% new oak barrels.

A very deep color, little developed. Rich, sweet nose with notes of very ripe fruit and spices. Extremely dense and perfectly harmonious on the palate, with well absorbed tannins. Drink now. It is perfect.

All three wines of this flight definitely showed maturity with the 1982 being the perfectly matured wine.

Fifth Flight: 2012, 2010, 2009

2012 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 70% new barrels.
Overall the weather in 2012 was not great. It was very volatile. However August 2012 will be remembered as being the hottest August since 2003, and also as being even drier than the summer of 2010. Very tight and closed on the nose with some hints of roasted herbs, gravel, espresso and black fruit. Dense palate with loads of vanilla, coffee, toasted almond. Relatively short finish. This wine will develop well.

2010 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot. 80% new barrels.
The 2010 vintage was the product of an exceptional combination of dry weather – 2010 was the driest year of the decade – and rather cool temperatures – with the coldest May over five years.

Aymeric de Gironde: “Look at that color; you know it’s a Cos wine when you cannot see your fingers through the glass. The 2010 was the best one we’ve made so far. Hopefully not the last best one. My model for the future.”

Beautiful, deep crimson color. Restrained on the nose with hints of cassis, tobacco and wet earth. Incredibly balanced and powerful on the palate. An extremely precise wine. Worth waiting for!

2009 Château Cos d'Estournel - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. 80% new barrels.

Aymeric de Gironde: “In 2009, the vintage got bigger than us, and the wine was opulent, exuberant, with extreme concentration.”

Lots of black fruit, cassis, fruit cake and incense notes on the nose. Powerful and rich, yet smooth on the palate, with extremely precise tannins. Great potential to age.

This wine got 100 points by Robert Parker but even given that cloud I preferred the 2010 which had the clean structure and perfect balance.


What an event! Thanks Panos and Americ.

Pictures: What an event! Thanks Panos and Americ

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