Château Cos d'Estournel: Vineyards
The vineyards of Cos are on the customary Quaternary gravel which peppers the left bank of the Gironde. There are 70 hectares divided up into 30 parcels, with Cabernet Sauvignon holding a slight predominance, accounting for 60% of the red vines, with the remaining 40% being Merlot. There was once a small amount of Cabernet Franc, about 2% of the vineyard, but this no longer seems to play a part in today's Cos d'Estournel. The Cabernet Sauvignon is concentrated to the west of the vineyard, where there are well-drained gravel slopes, whereas the Merlot is preferentially planted towards the eastern edge where the limestone bedrock peeps out from beneath the surface gravels. The vineyard is located at the southernmost extremity of the St Estèphe vineyard, just a few minutes walk from Lafite-Rothschild.
Indeed, a view from the front of the château (shown above) takes in not only a small number of the Cos d'Estournel vines, but also the trees along the Jalle du Breuil, the drainage ditch which separates St Estèphe from Pauillac. The vineyards running up the slope rising in the distance behind the trees are in the latter appellation, and are indeed the vines of Lafite.
The Cos d'Estournel vines are planted at a density of 8000 to 10000 vines per hectare, and have an average age of 35 years. Only those of more than 20 years provide fruit for the grand vin, Château Cos d'Estournel, with others most probably destined for the second wine, Les Pagodes de Cos. Each vineyard worker has responsibility for 45000 vines, and must oversee the routine vineyard tasks such as pruning and leaf-thinning. The harvest is also by hand, and is down to a combined work-force which includes the Cos d'Estournel employees and a team who trek there from the Andalucían village of Alcalá La Real, camping in the grounds of the estate at night, picking the grapes by day. (15/10/08, updated 16/9/09, 28/10/12)