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May 05, 2015

Cos d’Estournel, Talbot and Guiraud 2014

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Cos d’Estournel released their 2014 vintage this morning for £67.91 per bottle, £815 a case of 12 bottles, or £407.50 per case of six. This represents a reduction off 9.4% ex-London on 2013, 17.7% on 2012 and 20% on 2011. When one considers it is their best wine since 2010 one can confidently posit that it offers superb value, or that 2011 through to 2013 were overpriced. The 2014 is their best effort since 2009 and 2010 and the only other vintage to edge it in the last ten is 2005. Neal Martin has, in contrast to Parker, provided very little deviation in his scores. In fact he scored 18 leading wines exactly 93-95 points, providing little digression to judge from, but it means Cos d’Estournel can be put on par with Petrus, Ausone, Margaux and Haut Brion in 2014 in his eyes. If we go by Suckling then the 2014 competes with the stellar 2010, making it a very strong Cos indeed, a view backed up by Tim Atkin’s 97 point score. We thought it was tasting very well during en primeur and it is certainly a Cos to own.

table 1

Cos d’Estournel is the greatest wine estate in St.Estephe and the terroir boasts wonderful gravel on top of a limestone plateau, or Cos, which translates as ‘hill of pebbles’.  If it were not for a small stream separating it from Lafite Rothschild it would have been classified as a First Growth in 1855. Cos d’Estournel was named eponymously after Louis-Gaspard d’Estournel who inherited the Estate in 1810. He found particular success in India where his wine sold at prices far above his rivals and he became known as “the Maharaja of Saint Estèphe”. To celebrate this success he built the pagoda style property which today is still one of the most recognisable sites in Bordeaux from which their second wine Pagodes derives its name. Cos d’Estournel is an impressive wine, intense in youth with a masculine structure and concentrated fruit; it develops slowly but beautifully to release a unique perfume of incense not found in other Bordeaux wines.

Yesterday, Chateau Talbot and Guiraud released. Chateau Talbot released at £24.16 per bottle ex-London, £290 per case of 12 bottles, the same price as in 2013. Chateau Guiraud released at £24.58, £295 per case, a 4.8% decrease in 2013 and the lowest release price since 2007!

The quality of the wines from Saint Julien in the 2014 vintage is superb and Talbot was one of our value picks of the vintage. James Suckling agrees and gives the opinion it is the ‘Best Talbot in years, maybe decades’. Suckling underlined his adulation with a score of 94-95, eclipsing his barrel scores of both the 2009 and 2010 vintage. It also received 90-93 from the Wine Spectator, 89-91+ from Neal Martin and 93 from Tim Atkin. This gives it a higher potential score from James Suckling and the Wine Spectator than the 2009 and 2010 vintages.

Talbot is ranked as the 8th best en primeur wine to buy by Harper’s Magazine in terms of returns. It perennially performs well from barrel to bottle, it has a current average case price since 2004 of £374, as demonstrated by the table below:

table 2

Talbot, classified as a Fourth Growth, is located near the Gironde estuary in the north-east of Saint Julien bordering the southern aspect of Pauillac. Its vineyards are some of the largest in the Medoc and occupy the highest point in Saint Julien. The vineyard is planted with 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc with the wines aged in 50-60% new oak for 16 months and an average production of 25,000 cases.

Chateau Guiraud released yesterday at £24.58 per bottle, the lowest since 2007, offering a superb incentive on release. There is no question 2014 is a wonderful vintage for the wines of Barsac and Sauternes and Guiraud has produced a superb wine, scoring 94-97 from the Wine Spectator and 93-95 from the Wine Advocate.

In 2014 Sauternes are utterly superb, the Indian summer creating grapes that are ripe and balanced with fresh acidity. All this provided almost perfect conditions for botrytic development, Sauternes and Barsac experienced an August in October, with afternoon sun ensuring noble rot, fundamental for botrytis.

TABLE3

Chateau Guiraud and d’Yquem are the only 1er Cru Classé properties that are located in the commune of Sauternes. Guiraud has 100 hectares under vine and the vineyard is planted with 65% Semillon and 35% Sauvignon Blanc. The terroir is simply splendid combining gravel, clay, limestone and sandy soils and the vines have an average age of 40 years, producing perennially concentrated fruit. On average the vineyard produces 100,000 bottles per vintage. The wine is aged in 90% new oak for two years. Moreover, 2011 marks the first vintage certified as organic from Guiraud.

Cos d’Estournel 2014, 12×75 – £815 or 6×75 – £407.50 EP
James Suckling 96-97
I love the style of this Cos with so much Indian spices constituting the aromas and flavors here. Full body, fine tannins and an ultra-long finish. Excellent structure and length yet this maintains finesse. 
Neal Martin 93-95
It has “cool” nose, by that I mean it is not a flamboyant set of aromatics like the 2009 or 2010, but rather “streamlined” and focused, very delineated with black fruit intermingling with incense and iris. It is very controlled. The palate is medium-bodied with supple, but “full” tannins in the mouth that lend this Cos d’Estournel impressive volume. There is an unerring purity here, a gradual crescendo of intensity towards a peppery finish that lingers long. This is an impressive Grand Vin – classic Cos d’Estournel. Tasted three times with consistent notes. 
Tim Atkin 97
After a stylistic wobble in 2009, Cos has made a run of impressive wines in recent years. The 2014 is right up there with the very best of them: deftly oaked, spicy and green pepper scented with a core of sweetness framed by fine-grained tannins and underpinned by tangy acidity. 

Talbot 2014, 12×75 – £290 or 6×75 – £145 EP
James Suckling 94-95
This is really powerful with excellent depth of fruit and richness. Spices, blueberries and lightly toasted oak now. But it shows really serious structure. Best Talbot in years, maybe decades.
Wine Spectator 90–93
Tightly focused and ripe, with a lovely beam of blackberry, blueberry and plum fruit, lined with pastis hints and backed by brambly grip. Vivacious. 

Guiraud 2014, 12×75 – £295 EP or 6×75 – £147.50 EP
Wine Spectator 94-97 
A juicy, engaging core of apricot, nectarine and green fig is backed by ginger and spiced apple accents. Orange zest notes enliven the finish even more. Shows solid length, power and precision.
Neal Martin, Wine Advocate 93-95
The Château Guiraud 2014 has a perfumed bouquet with clear honey, beeswax and honeysuckle aromas that are well defined. The palate is fresh and taut on the entry: good tension and focus here, very harmonious with a gently build in the mouth towards a satisfying marmalade and quince-driven finish. This is a finely crafted Guiraud that will be a class act.

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