Château Cos Labory: Vineyards

The vineyards of Château Cos Labory today account for 18 hectares of the St Estèphe appellation and the vines, with an average age of 35 years and planted at 8,700 vines per hectare, are 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon having risen over the past decade, at the expense of the Cabernet Franc. I believe there is also a very small area planted to Petit Verdot. A large number of vines exceed 50 years of age, and very elderly examples are replaced on a vine-by-vine basis rather than through systemic uprooting and replanting. The soils are a mix of Günzian gravel and clay over limestone, with gravel predominating on the hill where Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc dominate, the cooler clays playing host to Merlot.

In the vineyard the team here have long followed the philosophy of lutte raisonnée, perhaps best described as reasoned viticulture, which allows for the considered use of chemical treatments where necessary. There is thus no adherence to any more rigorous philosophy such as organics or biodynamics. Nevertheless there are no chemical insecticides in use, and weed control is achieved partly though ploughing, partly with herbicides. No doubt under new management, the practices in the vineyard will be overhauled.

Château Cos Labory

Where the work in the vineyard has differed from the majority of this estate’s peers is in the matter of harvesting and other vineyard labour; during the tenure of the Audoy family much of this was achieved using machines. Trimming the canopy in summer is a mechanical process, although leaf-plucking is manual, and harvesting machines have been used here in the past also.

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